How to Select the Right Pharmacy Technician College Near Oxford Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near OxfordAL, you might be wondering how to pick the ideal school to receive your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. Many prospective students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical factors when picking a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in studying at home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Job of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job duties, but their principal 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 good customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily functions a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is a very gratifying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives to training to be a tech 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 finished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Oxford AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Available Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician schools elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Oxford AL employers will only hire 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 candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Colleges
Before selecting a pharmacy technician online college, it's necessary to realize that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is commonly satisfied in a local Oxford pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to get some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken 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 continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, 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 training may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
Once you have decided whether you would like to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech schools to pick from in the Oxford AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Oxford home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other issues that you need to consider in order to properly compare schools. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech colleges and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a complete superior education. Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it might assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require 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 all states, but a number of employers desire that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacy technician college needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This condition may be satisfied by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Oxford Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Getting that initial position in Oxford AL upon graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Oxford AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist technician program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Oxford AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Oxford Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the right pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping people with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech schools incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to choose a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the proper training and dedication you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Oxford Alabama.