How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Tech Course Near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near Muscle ShoalsAL, you might be thinking about just how to pick the best program to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. A number of potential students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant factors when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation should be considered also. And if you prefer studying in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Muscle Shoals AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily tasks a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Enter customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control 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 reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degree Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Muscle Shoals AL pharmacy or other 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 comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech schools opt to become certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Muscle Shoals 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 requirements are that the applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Colleges
Before deciding on a pharmacist tech online college, it's important to realize that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in an area Muscle Shoals pharmacy or health center 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 balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Muscle Shoals AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online college you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction may be the ideal solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Schools
Once you have determined whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech schools to select from in the Muscle Shoals AL area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Muscle Shoals home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are many other variables that you need to consider in order to properly compare schools. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a complete superior education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it might help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Muscle Shoals AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous pharmacies desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech school should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement may be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates a year of professional experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Muscle Shoals Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial job in Muscle Shoals AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any support. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If so, ask 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 signifies that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Muscle Shoals AL home. Students who have opted 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 concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps 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 generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacy tech program you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Muscle Shoals AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Muscle Shoals Pharmacy Tech Course
Getting the ideal pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where helping people with their health is your objective. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician colleges include both clinical and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to select a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the appropriate education and dedication you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Muscle Shoals Alabama.