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How to Choose the Best Pharmacist Tech Program Near Opelika Alabama

Opelika Alabama pharmacy tech taking prescription from shelfHaving decided to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near OpelikaAL, you might be pondering how to pick the best school to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. A number of future students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical concerns when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online programs.

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The Job of Pharmacy Technicians

Opelika Alabama hospital pharmacy tech wearing lab coat

Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Opelika AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can assist 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 give medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech may perform are:

  • Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
  • Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
  • Add customer and prescription information 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 monitor and manage inventory

Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is a very rewarding career assisting customers with their health and well-being.

Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas

Opelika Alabama pharmacy stockIndividuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally 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 normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Opelika AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.

Pharmacy Tech Certifications

Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools elect to get certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Opelika AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are two 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 work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which may be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacist Tech Programs Online

Opelika Alabama young woman taking pharmacy tech classes onlinePrior to choosing a pharmacist technician online training program, it's necessary to realize that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is commonly satisfied in a local Opelika pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to get some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online in your Opelika AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, especially for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials can be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction might be the best option for you.

Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Courses

After you have determined whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist tech programs to choose from in the Opelika AL area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Opelika home. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are several other issues that you need to consider in order to effectively compare colleges. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.

Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have obtained a national or regional 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 evaluated and certified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Don't forget to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it might assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And many Opelika AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.

Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech program should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This requirement may be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.

Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on 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 an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the colleges have associations with Opelika Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.

Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Getting that initial job in Opelika AL upon graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a difficult task without any assistance. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.

Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Opelika AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep 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 may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program also.

Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacist technician college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Opelika AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

More on How to Train to Become a Pharmacy Tech in Opelika

Enroll in the Best Opelika Pharmacy Technician Program

Finding the best pharmacist technician training is an important first step to launching your career in a fulfilling profession where helping customers with their health is your objective. In the past, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained technicians. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to choose a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This is true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the right training and determination you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Opelika Alabama.



 

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