How to Pick the Best Pharmacist Tech College Near Anchorage Alaska
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near AnchorageAK, you may be pondering just how to select the best school to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of potential students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical factors when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated as well. And if you prefer studying at home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Responsibilities of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have multiple job duties, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Anchorage AK pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms 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 provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the common daily services a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete 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 the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work after hours is a very satisfying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally 2 options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Anchorage AK pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech colleges opt to get certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Anchorage AK 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 requires 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 applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which can be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Programs
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in an area Anchorage pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech so as to acquire some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Anchorage AK home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online instruction may be the right option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
Once you have decided whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, 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 a large number of pharmacist tech schools to select from in the Anchorage AK area and throughout the United States, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Anchorage home. 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 many other factors that you should consider in order to effectively compare programs. The questions below will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? Many pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a complete superior education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Make sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And many Anchorage AK pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but numerous pharmacies desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist technician school should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This qualification can be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Anchorage Alaska area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial job in Anchorage AK upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult task without some assistance. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of employer relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Anchorage AK home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local 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 might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist technician 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 need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Anchorage AK area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Anchorage Pharmacy Technician Course
Finding the ideal pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying profession where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech schools incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to choose a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the proper training and dedication you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Anchorage Alaska.