How to Pick the Best Pharmacy Technician Training Program Near Northport Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near NorthportAL, you might be wondering how to choose the right school to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many prospective students begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important factors when selecting a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding 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 technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Job of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have various job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Northport AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. Any such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is a very satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Northport AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to get certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Northport 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 requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which can be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Colleges Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacist technician online training program, it's important 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 an area Northport pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy technician in order to obtain some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be taken over the internet in your Northport AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online programs are often less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and course materials may be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program 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 structured form of education, then online training might be the ideal solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Courses
Once you have determined whether you would like to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist technician programs to pick from in the Northport AL area and throughout the United States, 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 programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Northport home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are many other variables that you need to consider in order to effectively compare colleges. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to furnish a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Make sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it can assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Northport AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers desire that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacist technician college needs to prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be met by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Northport Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first position in Northport AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some help. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Northport AL home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacist tech program you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Northport AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check 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 because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Northport Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where helping people with their health is your objective. In the past, most pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech programs include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the right training and dedication you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Northport Alabama.