How to Choose the Right Pharmacy Tech College Near Opelika Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near OpelikaAL, you may be wondering just how to choose the ideal program to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate schools that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are significant concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding 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 comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Duties of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have various job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Opelika AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the common daily duties a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock 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, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degree 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 becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Opelika AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Opelika 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 one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which can be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Classes
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy tech online program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Opelika pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to get some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed online in your Opelika AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, particularly for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials can be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online classes might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Technician Courses
Once you have determined whether you would like to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy tech schools to pick from in the Opelika AL area and throughout the Country, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Opelika home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other issues that you must take into consideration so that you may properly compare programs. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Many pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have obtained 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 furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Don't forget to check that the degree or certificate program together with the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Besides helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Opelika AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician college should prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This condition can be met by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Opelika Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial position in Opelika AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging task without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they select will need to be within driving distance of their Opelika AL residence. 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 local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps 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 usually charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy tech program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Opelika AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Opelika Pharmacy Technician Course
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting customers with their health is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech programs incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the proper education and commitment you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Opelika Alabama.