How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacist Tech Course Near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near Muscle ShoalsAL, you might be pondering how to select the ideal program to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. A number of future students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical concerns when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be evaluated as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Function of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have many job duties, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Muscle Shoals AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily services a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically 2 options to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Muscle Shoals AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive 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 Offered
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to get certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Muscle Shoals AL pharmacies will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are two 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 at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is required every 2 years by both programs, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Colleges
Prior to choosing a pharmacy technician online training program, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is commonly satisfied in a local Muscle Shoals pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to get some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Muscle Shoals AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, notably for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online classes might be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Schools
Once you have decided whether you want to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician schools to pick from in the Muscle Shoals AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational 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 Muscle Shoals home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other factors that you need to take into consideration in order to effectively compare programs. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech programs and vocational schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a complete superior education. Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online education. Don't forget to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Muscle Shoals AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech college should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This qualification may be met by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Muscle Shoals Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial position in Muscle Shoals AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any assistance. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Muscle Shoals AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at 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 some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy technician program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Muscle Shoals AL area, make sure 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 carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Muscle Shoals Pharmacy Technician Course
Finding the ideal pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where helping people with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy technician colleges include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the right education and commitment you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Muscle Shoals Alabama.