How to Choose the Right Pharmacist Tech College Near Selma Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near SelmaAL, you might be wondering how to pick the right college to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of potential students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important concerns when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be taken into account also. And if you are interested in studying in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Role of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Selma AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily tasks a pharmacy technician may carry out are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that 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 vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, 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 generally include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Selma AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive 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 choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Selma AL pharmacies will only hire a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the applicant be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has completed 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 examination. Recertification is required every 2 years by both programs, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Colleges
Before deciding on a pharmacy technician online program, it's necessary to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in a local Selma pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech so as to receive some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken over the internet in your Selma AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for most students, notably for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials can be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online classes might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
After you have determined whether you wish to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist technician programs to pick from in the Selma AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Selma home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are several other issues that you should consider so that you may properly compare programs. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? Many pharmacy tech colleges and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Don't forget to check that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it might 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 a number of Selma 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 pharmacies desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech school needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This requirement can be met by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates a year of professional experience for certification, which may be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech 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 a great way to meet the requirement. Check if the schools have associations with Selma Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first position in Selma AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging task without any help. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Selma AL home. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously 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 decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average teacher to student 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 talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacy technician school you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Selma AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Best Selma Pharmacy Technician Program
Receiving the best pharmacist tech training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy technician colleges include both classroom and clinical training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to choose a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the right training and determination you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Selma Alabama.