How to Pick the Best Pharmacy Tech School Near Mountain Brook Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near Mountain BrookAL, you may be wondering how to select the ideal college to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate schools that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. A number of potential students begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical factors when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Job of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Mountain Brook AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Enter customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is an extremely satisfying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree and Certificate Programs
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Mountain Brook AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools elect to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Mountain Brook AL pharmacies will only hire a tech 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 completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Classes
Before deciding on a pharmacist technician online college, it's important to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in a local Mountain Brook pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Mountain Brook AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, particularly for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online programs are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that each online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online classes might be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Technician Programs
After you have decided whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are many pharmacist technician programs to select from in the Mountain Brook AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Mountain Brook home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other variables that you need to take into consideration so that you may properly compare colleges. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Many pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have acquired a regional or national 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 evaluated and certified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Make sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program together with the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training 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 mandated in all states, but numerous pharmacies desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech college should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This qualification can be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Mountain Brook Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Mountain Brook AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any assistance. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Mountain Brook AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist technician college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Mountain Brook AL area, verify 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 need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Best Mountain Brook Pharmacy Technician Course
Finding the right pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a gratifying profession where helping customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy technician programs include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to select a program 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 other tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the appropriate education and commitment you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Mountain Brook Alabama.