How to Pick the Best Pharmacy Technician Course Near Pelham Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near PelhamAL, you might be wondering how to choose the ideal college to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. A number of future students begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important concerns when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. And if you prefer attending classes at home in front 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 comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have many job duties, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Pelham AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two alternatives to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Pelham AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Available Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician schools opt to become certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Pelham AL employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Schools Online
Before choosing a pharmacy tech online training program, it's important to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Pelham pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Pelham AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials may be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online classes may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician schools to select from in the Pelham AL area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for programs that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Pelham residence. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are many other factors that you should take into consideration in order to effectively compare colleges. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacy tech programs 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Make sure 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 organization. Besides helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the training program 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 College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but a number of employers desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist tech program should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This condition can be met by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the schools have associations with Pelham Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Getting that initial position in Pelham AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without some help. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Pelham AL home. Those 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 bear 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy tech college you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Pelham AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Pelham Pharmacy Technician Course
Finding the best pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech schools incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a school that is accredited and will ready 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 evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the right education and dedication you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Pelham Alabama.