How to Select the Right Pharmacy Tech Program Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near TuscaloosaAL, you may be wondering just how to pick the right college to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. A number of prospective students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation should be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below
The Job of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have many job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Tuscaloosa AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is a very fulfilling career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Training Programs
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally 2 options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Tuscaloosa AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs opt to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Tuscaloosa AL employers will only hire a technician that is certified. 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, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Classes Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online school, it's important to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in a local Tuscaloosa pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Tuscaloosa AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, notably for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction might be the best option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Courses
Once you have determined whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy tech programs to pick from in the Tuscaloosa AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Tuscaloosa home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are several other issues that you must take into consideration so that you may adequately compare schools. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have earned 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 obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Make sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, it might help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Tuscaloosa AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but numerous employers prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech college needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates a year of professional experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Tuscaloosa Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Tuscaloosa AL after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a challenging endeavor without any assistance. Find out if the schools you are looking at 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 profession generating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Tuscaloosa AL residence. Students who have decided 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 program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically 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 student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost 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 typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacist tech school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Tuscaloosa AL area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. 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 Best Tuscaloosa Pharmacy Tech Course
Receiving the best pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where assisting people with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician colleges include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to choose a program 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 tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the proper training and determination you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Tuscaloosa Alabama.