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How to Pick the Right Pharmacy Tech College Near Oxford Alabama

Oxford Alabama pharmacy technician stocking shelfNow that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near OxfordAL, you might be wondering just how to select the ideal college to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find schools that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. A number of future students begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant concerns when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. And if you prefer studying in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.

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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech

Oxford Alabama hospital pharmacy technician in lab coat

Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Oxford AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech may perform are:

  • Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
  • Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
  • Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
  • Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
  • Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
  • Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory

As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is a very gratifying career helping people with their health and well-being.

Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees

Oxford Alabama pharmacy shelves with prescriptionsStudents wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two alternatives 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 finished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Oxford AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.

Pharmacist Technician Certifications Available

It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy tech schools choose to get certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, a number of Oxford AL employers will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:

  • National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
  • Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)

The NHA requires that the applicant be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacy Technician Classes Online

Oxford Alabama young female student enrolled in pharmacy technician classes onlineBefore choosing a pharmacy tech online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is commonly satisfied in an area Oxford pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to receive some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Oxford AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online colleges are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance 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 might be the best option for you.

What to Ask Pharmacist Technician Programs

Once you have determined whether you wish to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy technician schools to pick from in the Oxford AL area and throughout the Country, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Oxford residence. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other factors that you must 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 ultimate choice.

Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? Many pharmacist tech programs and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program together with the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring 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 employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.

Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of employers prefer that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech program needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This qualification may be satisfied by participating in a college sponsored internship program.

Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be fulfilled with an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work 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. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Oxford Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.

Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Finding that initial position in Oxford AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any support. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If they do, 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 field generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduates.

Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Oxford AL residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to 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 back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. 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 as well.

Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacy technician school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Oxford AL area, verify 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 need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.

More on How to Train to Become a Pharmacy Technician in Oxford

Enroll in the Right Oxford Pharmacy Technician School

Getting the right pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a gratifying profession where assisting customers with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this 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. A large number of pharmacy technician programs incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's important to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for classes online 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 right choice. With the right education and determination you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Oxford Alabama.



 

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