How to Find the Right Pharmacy Tech Course Near Montgomery Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near MontgomeryAL, you might be pondering how to pick the right college to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate schools that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many future students start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are critical factors when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated also. And if you prefer attending classes at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have numerous job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Montgomery AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally 2 alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Montgomery AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs opt to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Montgomery AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that is certified. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Classes Online
Before choosing a pharmacy technician online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in a local Montgomery pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy technician in order to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online in your Montgomery AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for most students, particularly for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online programs are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online program you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online classes might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Technician Courses
After you have decided whether you wish to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy tech schools to pick from in the Montgomery AL area and throughout the Country, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Montgomery home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are several other factors that you should take into consideration so that you may effectively compare schools. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? Many pharmacist tech programs and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to provide a complete quality education. Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with helping ensure that you get a quality education, it can help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Montgomery AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but numerous pharmacies desire that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacist technician school needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This qualification can be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which may be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Montgomery Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Montgomery AL after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a daunting endeavor without any help. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has a good reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Montgomery AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy tech school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Montgomery AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Right Montgomery Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the best pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying profession where assisting customers with their health is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech schools incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate training and determination you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Montgomery Alabama.