How to Choose the Right Pharmacist Tech School Near Anchorage Alaska
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near AnchorageAK, you may be wondering how to choose the right school to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to find schools that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. A number of future students start by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical concerns when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered also. And if you are interested in studying at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Role of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job duties, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Anchorage AK pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily services a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree and Certificate Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 alternatives to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Anchorage AK pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Available Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Anchorage AK pharmacies will only employ a tech that is certified. There are 2 organizations that offer 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 just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Classes Online
Before deciding on a pharmacy technician online program, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in an area Anchorage pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to receive some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken over the internet in your Anchorage AK home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online training might be the best solution for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Technician Programs
Once you have decided whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy tech schools to choose from in the Anchorage AK area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Anchorage residence. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are many other variables that you must take into consideration in order to adequately compare colleges. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacist Tech Program Accredited? Most pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program together with the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it may help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Anchorage AK employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist technician college needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This requirement may be fulfilled by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied by means of 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 technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Anchorage Alaska area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Finding that initial job in Anchorage AK upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting task without some help. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Anchorage AK home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online 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 decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big 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 probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist tech school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Anchorage AK area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Anchorage Pharmacy Technician Course
Receiving the right pharmacy technician training is an important first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your mission. In the past, many pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist technician schools include both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the right training and dedication you can realize your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Anchorage Alaska.