How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Tech School Near Oxford Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near OxfordAL, you might be thinking about how to pick the ideal school to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. Many prospective students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are critical concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer instead of 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 comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Job of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have various job duties, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing 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 working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs 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 circumstance should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the common daily services a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work after hours is a very satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two alternatives to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Oxford AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Available Certifications
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, many Oxford AL employers will only hire a tech that is certified. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Colleges Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacist technician online school, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in an area Oxford 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 receive some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Oxford AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, notably for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any 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 study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
After you have determined whether you wish to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want 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 colleges to select from in the Oxford AL area and throughout the United States, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Oxford home. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are several other variables that you need to consider in order to properly compare schools. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Most pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a complete superior education. Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance 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 can assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Oxford AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many pharmacies prefer that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech college needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This qualification can be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates 1 year of professional experience for certification, which may be met by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way 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 in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Check if the colleges have associations with Oxford Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first position in Oxford AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult task without some help. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Oxford AL residence. Students who have decided 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 keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacy tech program you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Oxford AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Best Oxford Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the ideal pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where helping people with their wellness is your mission. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy technician colleges incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to choose a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the appropriate training and commitment you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Oxford Alabama.