How to Select the Right Pharmacy Tech Course Near Pelham Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near PelhamAL, you may be wondering just how to select the right school to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. Many future students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important factors when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation should be considered also. And if you prefer studying 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 go over these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Function of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Pelham AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 alternatives to becoming 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 usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Pelham AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, many Pelham AL pharmacies will only employ a tech 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 candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which can be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Colleges
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist tech online college, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in a local Pelham pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech so as to acquire some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed over the internet in your Pelham AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college 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 classes may be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Courses
After you have determined whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are many pharmacist technician schools to pick from in the Pelham AL area and throughout the Country, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Pelham residence. If you are able to relocate 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 variables that you need to consider so that you may adequately compare programs. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges 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 confirm that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Pelham AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but numerous pharmacies desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech college should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This condition may be fulfilled by taking part in 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 fulfilled with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Pelham Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Pelham AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting task without some support. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Pelham AL home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy tech program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Pelham AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Pelham Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to launching your career in a rewarding occupation where helping people with their health is your purpose. In the past, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist technician programs incorporate both clinical and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's important to choose a college 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 additional tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the appropriate training and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Pelham Alabama.