How to Find the Right Pharmacist Tech School Near Northport Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near NorthportAL, you may be wondering just how to pick the best school to get your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many future students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical factors when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation must 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 go over 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 diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Role of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have numerous job functions, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Northport AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degree and Certificate Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 alternatives to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Northport AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to get certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Northport AL employers will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Classes Online
Before deciding on a pharmacy technician online college, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area Northport pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken online in your Northport AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online college you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online instruction may be the best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
Once you have decided whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are numerous pharmacy tech programs to select from in the Northport AL area and throughout the United States, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Northport residence. 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 several other issues that you need to take into consideration in order to properly compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacist Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance learning. Make sure to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And many Northport 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 required in every state, but numerous employers desire that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacy technician program should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This qualification may be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Northport Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Northport AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any help. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Northport AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist technician school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Northport AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Northport Pharmacy Technician Program
Finding the right pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to launching your career in a rewarding profession where helping people with their health is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist tech colleges incorporate both laboratory and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to select a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate education and determination you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Northport Alabama.