How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Tech School Near Montgomery Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near MontgomeryAL, you may be wondering just how to pick the best school to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are significant concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated also. And if you are interested in studying at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have numerous job functions, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Montgomery AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily services a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is a very satisfying career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Training Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Montgomery AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician schools opt to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Montgomery AL pharmacies will only hire 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, be a high school graduate, 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 examination. Recertification is required every two years by both programs, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Colleges Online
Before selecting a pharmacist tech online college, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Montgomery pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Montgomery AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online training may be the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you would like to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician programs to choose from in the Montgomery AL area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Montgomery home. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other factors that you must consider so that you may effectively compare programs. The following questions will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician colleges and trade schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it might assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Montgomery AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous employers prefer that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech college should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This qualification may be satisfied by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which may be satisfied through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the programs have associations with Montgomery Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Securing that initial job in Montgomery AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any assistance. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Montgomery AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist tech school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Montgomery AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Best Montgomery Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the ideal pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to starting your career in a fulfilling profession where helping customers with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy tech colleges incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to choose a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate education and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Montgomery Alabama.