How to Enroll In the Right Pharmacy Technician Program Near Northport Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near NorthportAL, you may be thinking about just how to choose the ideal college 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. Many future students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant factors when choosing a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation should be evaluated as well. 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 program will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below
The Role of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have multiple job duties, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Northport AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily services a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out 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 weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two alternatives to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Northport AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech schools opt to become certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Northport AL employers will only employ a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school 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 Tech Online Colleges
Prior to choosing a pharmacist tech online college, it's important to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in a local Northport pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Northport AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for driving and study materials can be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online school you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online instruction might be the best option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Technician Colleges
After you have decided whether you would like to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy technician programs to select from in the Northport AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for programs that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Northport home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are several other variables that you need to consider so that you may properly compare programs. The following questions will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have earned a national or regional 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 verified to offer a complete quality education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program together with the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it can help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Northport AL employers 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 a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacy technician program needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be fulfilled by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician 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 an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Check if the colleges have a working relationship with Northport Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Northport AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting task without some assistance. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Northport AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician school you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Northport AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Northport Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the right pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where helping people with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist technician schools incorporate 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 online classes and 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 best choice. With the proper education and commitment you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Northport Alabama.