How to Find the Right Pharmacy Technician College Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near TuscaloosaAL, you might be pondering how to select the ideal program to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. A number of prospective students start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant factors when selecting a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. And if you prefer attending classes at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some 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 degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Tuscaloosa AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the common daily tasks a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions 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 profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is a very fulfilling career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational 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 different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Tuscaloosa AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs opt to become certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Tuscaloosa AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Schools Online
Before deciding on a pharmacist technician online training program, it's necessary to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is commonly satisfied in an area Tuscaloosa pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to get some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken online in your Tuscaloosa AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online training might be the right solution for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you want 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 options. There are numerous pharmacy tech colleges to choose from in the Tuscaloosa AL area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for colleges that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Tuscaloosa residence. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other factors that you should consider so that you may adequately compare programs. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician colleges and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to furnish a complete superior education. Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Tuscaloosa AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many pharmacies prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech college needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This requirement may be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which may be met by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the schools have associations with Tuscaloosa Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Finding that first position in Tuscaloosa AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any support. 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 indicator that the school has a good reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Tuscaloosa AL residence. Students who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist tech college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Tuscaloosa AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Tuscaloosa Pharmacy Technician Program
Finding the ideal pharmacy tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their wellness is your objective. In the past, many pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech programs include both classroom and clinical training. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to select a school that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the proper training and dedication you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Tuscaloosa Alabama.