How to Pick the Best Pharmacist Tech Program Near Anchorage Alaska
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near AnchorageAK, you might be pondering just how to choose the best college to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant factors when picking a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below
The Job of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy technicians have many job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Anchorage AK pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily services a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Input prescription and customer 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 audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Certificates
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two alternatives to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Anchorage AK pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician schools elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Anchorage AK pharmacies will only employ a technician 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 candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Classes Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy tech online college, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in an area Anchorage pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Anchorage AK home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online schools are often less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials may be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online training may be the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
Once you have determined whether you wish to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy technician colleges to choose from in the Anchorage AK area and throughout the USA, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Anchorage residence. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other factors that you need to take into consideration in order to properly compare schools. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping ensure that you get a quality education, it might assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Anchorage AK pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician program needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This qualification can be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which may be satisfied with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the colleges have associations with Anchorage Alaska area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial job in Anchorage AK after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult task without some assistance. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Anchorage AK 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 choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort 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 allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy tech program you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Anchorage AK area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Best Anchorage Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to launching your career in a gratifying profession where helping customers with their health is your objective. In the past, many pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist tech schools include both classroom and clinical work. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to choose a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the right training and determination you can realize your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Anchorage Alaska.