How to Pick the Best Pharmacy Technician Program Near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near PrattvilleAL, you may be thinking about just how to select the ideal college to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. Many prospective students begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant concerns when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. And if you prefer attending classes at 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 address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Responsibilities of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Prattville AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily services a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions 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 weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally 2 alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Prattville AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Prattville AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the applicant be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school 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 Programs Online
Before selecting a pharmacy tech online school, it's necessary to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in an area Prattville pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy tech so as to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Prattville AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, especially for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and study materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the best solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
Once you have determined whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician programs to choose from in the Prattville AL area and throughout the United States, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for colleges that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Prattville residence. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other factors that you need to take into consideration so that you may adequately compare colleges. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? Many 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). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to provide a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Don't forget to confirm that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Prattville AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous employers desire that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech program needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This condition may be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which can be met by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician 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 schools have associations with Prattville Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Prattville AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a challenging task without some assistance. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Prattville AL home. Students who have chosen 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 importance. Something 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician school you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Prattville AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Best Prattville Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the best pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where helping people with their health is your mission. In the past, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist technician schools incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to choose a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the proper training and determination you can reach your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Prattville Alabama.