How to Select the Best Pharmacy Tech College Near Opelika Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near OpelikaAL, you might be thinking about how to pick the best program to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to find schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. A number of prospective students start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical factors when selecting a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation should be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover 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 technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Job of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have many job responsibilities, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Opelika AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is a very fulfilling career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two options to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Opelika AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Opelika AL employers will only employ a technician 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 one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Classes
Before choosing a pharmacy tech online program, it's necessary to understand that most schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is commonly satisfied in an area Opelika pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy technician so as to get some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Opelika AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for most students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, 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 classes might be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Technician Schools
After you have determined whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are many pharmacy technician colleges 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 trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Opelika residence. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are several other variables that you must consider so that you may effectively compare colleges. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded 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 quality education. Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Make sure to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Besides helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Opelika AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacy technician program should prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This condition may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Check if the colleges have associations with Opelika Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Getting that first position in Opelika AL upon graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any support. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Opelika AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. 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 converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Opelika AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative 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 might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Opelika Pharmacy Tech Course
Getting the right pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech colleges include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the appropriate training and determination you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Opelika Alabama.