How to Pick the Best Pharmacist Technician Course Near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near PrattvilleAL, you might be pondering just how to choose the ideal school to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate schools that offer the certificate or degree that you would like to earn. A number of future students start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical factors when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Duties of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have many job responsibilities, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Prattville AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily services a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. 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 having to work off-hours is a very gratifying career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Training Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Prattville 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 furnish a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, many Prattville AL employers will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Programs
Before choosing a pharmacist technician online program, it's necessary to realize that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in an area Prattville pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken online in your Prattville AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials can be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online program you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 might be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have decided whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician colleges to choose from in the Prattville AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Prattville residence. If you are able 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 issues that you need to consider so that you may effectively compare colleges. The following questions will help you in collecting 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. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to provide a complete quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online education. Don't forget to check that the degree or certificate program together with the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Prattville AL employers 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 mandated in all states, but numerous employers prefer that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech program should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This qualification can be fulfilled by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates one year of professional experience for certification, which may be fulfilled by means of 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 technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Prattville Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Prattville AL after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a daunting task without some assistance. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Prattville AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching 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 an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist technician program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Prattville AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Prattville Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the right pharmacist tech training is an important first step to starting your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician schools incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to select a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the appropriate training and determination you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Prattville Alabama.