How to Find the Right Pharmacist Tech Training Program Near Mountain Brook Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near Mountain BrookAL, you might be wondering how to pick the right college to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. Many prospective students begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important concerns when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be taken into account as well. And if you prefer studying in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Responsibilities of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Mountain Brook AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the common daily tasks a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Receive and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Certificates
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two options to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Mountain Brook AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to get certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Mountain Brook AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has completed 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 mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Programs
Before choosing a pharmacy tech online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in an area Mountain Brook pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Mountain Brook AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for most students, especially for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online instruction may be the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Courses
After you have decided whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist technician colleges to select from in the Mountain Brook AL area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Mountain Brook home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are many other factors that you should consider so that you may effectively compare colleges. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacist Tech College Accredited? Many pharmacist technician colleges and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Don't forget to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And many Mountain Brook AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers prefer that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician college needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This requirement may be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which may be satisfied by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train 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 satisfy the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Mountain Brook Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Securing that first position in Mountain Brook AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any support. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Mountain Brook AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy tech college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Mountain Brook AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Mountain Brook Pharmacy Technician School
Getting the best pharmacy tech training is an important first step to starting your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy tech programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to choose a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the best selection. With the appropriate education and commitment you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Mountain Brook Alabama.