How to Find the Best Pharmacy Technician Course Near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near Muscle ShoalsAL, you might be pondering how to select the right college to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma 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 important factors when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation must be taken into account also. And if you are interested in studying in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will want 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 programs.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job responsibilities, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Muscle Shoals AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can assist customers with understanding directions 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 medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily duties a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians 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 assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Muscle Shoals AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about 2 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. Either program can furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech programs elect to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Muscle Shoals AL pharmacies will only hire a technician that is certified. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Programs
Before choosing a pharmacist technician online program, it's important to understand that most programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in an area Muscle Shoals pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken over the internet in your Muscle Shoals AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, notably for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online program you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online instruction might be the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Programs
After you have determined whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist technician programs to choose from in the Muscle Shoals AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for colleges that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Muscle Shoals residence. 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 many other factors that you should take into consideration so that you may properly compare programs. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Tech School Accredited? Many pharmacist tech 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to offer a complete quality education. Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Don't forget to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it can assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Muscle Shoals AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of employers prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech college should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This qualification can be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the colleges have a working relationship with Muscle Shoals Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Muscle Shoals AL upon graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a challenging task without some support. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Muscle Shoals AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist technician program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Muscle Shoals AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Muscle Shoals Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the best pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to starting your career in a rewarding profession where helping customers with their wellness is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician colleges incorporate both classroom and clinical training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to choose 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 additional suggestions you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate education and commitment you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Muscle Shoals Alabama.