How to Find the Right Pharmacist Technician Training Program Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near TuscaloosaAL, you may be wondering just how to pick the best program to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. A number of future students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important factors when selecting a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account also. And if you prefer studying at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Role of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Tuscaloosa AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is a very rewarding career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Tuscaloosa AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech colleges choose to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Tuscaloosa AL employers 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, has graduated from high school, has completed 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 exam. Recertification is required every two years by both programs, which may be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Colleges
Before selecting a pharmacist tech online program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is commonly satisfied in a local Tuscaloosa pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to get some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed 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 acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and study materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that each online school you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online instruction may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
Once you have determined whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are numerous pharmacist tech colleges to pick from in the Tuscaloosa AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Tuscaloosa home. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are many other variables that you need to take into consideration in order to effectively compare colleges. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician colleges and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Be sure to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it might help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Tuscaloosa AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech college needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This qualification can be fulfilled by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which may be fulfilled through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Tuscaloosa Alabama area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first position in Tuscaloosa AL upon graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any assistance. Find out if the colleges 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 appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Tuscaloosa AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacy tech program you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tuscaloosa AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right Tuscaloosa Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting people with their health is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist technician programs incorporate both classroom and clinical training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to choose a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the proper training and determination you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Tuscaloosa Alabama.