How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Technician College Near Phenix City Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near Phenix CityAL, you might be pondering how to pick the best college to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate schools that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. Many future students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant factors when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation must be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in studying in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have various job duties, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Phenix City AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 alternatives to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Phenix City 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 expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech schools opt to become certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Phenix City AL employers will only hire a tech 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 finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Schools Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist tech online training program, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is commonly satisfied in a local Phenix City pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy technician so as to get some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed over the internet in your Phenix City AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, especially for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online colleges are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example 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 might be the right solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Schools
Once you have decided whether you would like to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician programs to pick from in the Phenix City AL area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Phenix City home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are several other factors that you must consider in order to adequately compare schools. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Most pharmacist tech programs and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to offer a complete quality education. Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Don't forget to check that the certificate or degree program together with the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, it might help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Phenix City 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 required in all states, but numerous employers prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist technician college should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This qualification can be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Phenix City Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Phenix City AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a challenging task without any help. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has a good reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Phenix City AL residence. Students 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 consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges 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 a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacy tech program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Phenix City AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Phenix City Pharmacy Technician School
Getting the right pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a fulfilling profession where helping people with their health is your objective. In the past, most pharmacy 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 technicians. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy tech programs incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to select a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the best choice. With the appropriate training and commitment you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Phenix City Alabama.