How to Pick the Best Pharmacist Technician Program Near Pelham Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near PelhamAL, you might be pondering just how to pick the best program to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of prospective students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important factors when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated also. And if you prefer studying at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school 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 to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Pelham AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription drugs 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 in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, 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 after hours is a very satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Pelham AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech programs opt to get certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, a number of Pelham AL pharmacies will only hire 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 one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Colleges
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist technician online program, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local Pelham pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to obtain some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online in your Pelham AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online programs are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and course materials can be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that each online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online training may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Courses
After you have determined whether you want to attain 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 target your school options. There are numerous pharmacist tech colleges to choose from in the Pelham AL area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Pelham home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are many other issues that you should consider in order to properly compare colleges. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacist Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to provide a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And many Pelham AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but numerous pharmacies desire that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacy technician school should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This requirement can be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates a year of professional experience for certification, which may be satisfied with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician 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 a great way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Pelham Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial position in Pelham AL after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting undertaking without some help. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Pelham AL residence. 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 local internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist tech program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Pelham AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Pelham Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the ideal pharmacist tech training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a fulfilling profession where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician programs include both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to select a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are sure to make the best selection. With the appropriate training and dedication you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Pelham Alabama.