How to Pick the Best Pharmacist Tech School Near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Vestavia HillsAL, you may be pondering just how to select the ideal program to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. Many potential students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important factors when choosing a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have numerous job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Vestavia Hills AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily functions a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is a very satisfying career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially two alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Vestavia Hills AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Vestavia Hills 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 requirements are that the candidate 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 required every two years by both programs, which may be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Programs Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacist technician online college, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in an area Vestavia Hills pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to acquire some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Vestavia Hills AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for most students, especially for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online classes might be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Schools
Once you have determined whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech programs to pick from in the Vestavia Hills AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Vestavia Hills residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are several other factors that you must take into consideration so that you may adequately compare colleges. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have acquired a national or regional 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 certified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online education. Be sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Vestavia Hills AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician school should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This qualification can be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires a year of professional experience for certification, which may be met through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Vestavia Hills Alabama area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Vestavia Hills AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a challenging task without some assistance. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the field generating appeal 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 lot of students, the school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Vestavia Hills AL residence. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy tech program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Vestavia Hills AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Vestavia Hills Pharmacy Technician School
Receiving the ideal pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to starting your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician colleges incorporate both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to select a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This is 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 schools so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the appropriate education and commitment you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Vestavia Hills Alabama.