How to Enroll In the Right Pharmacy Technician School Near Sylacauga Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near SylacaugaAL, you may be pondering just how to choose the best program to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many prospective students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important factors when picking a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. And if you prefer studying in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Sylacauga AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree and Certificate Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Sylacauga AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, many Sylacauga 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 requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Schools Online
Before choosing a pharmacy technician online school, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Sylacauga pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to acquire some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Sylacauga AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, particularly for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online colleges are frequently more affordable than traditional 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 verify that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online classes might be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
Once you have determined whether you want to attain 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 options. There are many pharmacy tech colleges to pick from in the Sylacauga AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Sylacauga 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 take into consideration in order to adequately compare schools. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have obtained 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 screened and certified to furnish a complete superior education. Online programs may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Be sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it might assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Sylacauga AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician program should prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This condition can be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Sylacauga Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial job in Sylacauga AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult task without any assistance. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs. If so, find out 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 appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Sylacauga AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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 kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist tech program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Sylacauga AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Best Sylacauga Pharmacy Technician Course
Receiving the best pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a gratifying profession where assisting people with their health is your mission. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist tech programs include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to choose a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the appropriate education and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Sylacauga Alabama.