How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Tech Training Program Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near TuscaloosaAL, you might be thinking about just how to choose the ideal school to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of potential students start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important factors when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover 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 tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have many job functions, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Tuscaloosa AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. 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 being required to work off-hours is an extremely fulfilling career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degree Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Tuscaloosa AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools elect to get certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Tuscaloosa AL pharmacies will only employ a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 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, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Colleges Online
Before selecting a pharmacist technician online school, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is commonly satisfied in an area Tuscaloosa pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy technician so as to obtain some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken over the internet in your Tuscaloosa AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, especially for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be reduced significantly. 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 check that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online instruction may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Technician Schools
After you have decided whether you wish to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy technician colleges to select from in the Tuscaloosa AL area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Tuscaloosa residence. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are several other issues that you must take into consideration in order to properly compare colleges. The questions below will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Many pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to offer a complete quality education. Online colleges may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it may help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Tuscaloosa AL pharmacies 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 every state, but a number of employers desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist technician program should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This qualification may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of experience for certification, which can be satisfied by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train 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 satisfy the requirement. Check if the schools have associations with Tuscaloosa Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Finding that first position in Tuscaloosa AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some support. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Tuscaloosa AL home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern 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 college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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 student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist tech school you ultimately select can offer 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, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Tuscaloosa Pharmacy Technician Program
Finding the right pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to starting your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your mission. In the past, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy technician programs include both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to choose a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate education and dedication you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Tuscaloosa Alabama.