How to Pick the Best Pharmacist Tech School Near Oxford Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near OxfordAL, you may be wondering how to select the ideal college to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important factors when picking a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation must be considered also. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and others that you will want 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 benefits of online classes.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Oxford AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily tasks a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work after hours is an extremely gratifying career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that 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 attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Oxford AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about 2 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 should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician programs opt to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Also, a number of Oxford 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 requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Colleges Online
Before selecting a pharmacy tech online school, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in a local Oxford pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Oxford AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, particularly for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online classes may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Technician Programs
Once you have decided whether you wish to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy tech programs to choose from in the Oxford AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Oxford home. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are many other issues that you should take into consideration in order to effectively compare programs. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among 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 offer a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Oxford AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but numerous employers prefer that the techs they hire 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 also need one year of work experience. This requirement may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. One of the best ways 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 prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the colleges have a working relationship with Oxford Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Oxford AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any help. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Oxford AL home. Students who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble 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 decide 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 usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Oxford AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Right Oxford Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the best pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a rewarding occupation where helping people with their health is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy technician schools include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to choose a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate training and dedication you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Oxford Alabama.