How to Pick the Right Pharmacist Tech School Near College Alaska
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near CollegeAK, you might be wondering just how to choose the right program to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. A number of prospective students begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant concerns when selecting a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation should be evaluated also. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Duties of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have many job responsibilities, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed College AK pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the common daily functions a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Receive and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature 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 technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Certificates
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted College AK pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, many College AK employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years 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 each program, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Programs
Before selecting a pharmacy tech online program, it's necessary to understand that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area College pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your College AK home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, especially for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online classes may be the right solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Courses
Once you have decided whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician programs to choose from in the College AK area and throughout the Country, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your College home. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other issues that you must consider in order to adequately compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Tech School Accredited? Many pharmacy tech colleges and vocational schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it might assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many College 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 employers desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech school needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with College Alaska area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Securing that initial job in College AK after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a daunting task without some help. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance 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 means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their College AK home. Students who have decided to attend classes online obviously 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 decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacy tech program you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the College AK area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best College Pharmacy Technician Program
Receiving the best pharmacy tech training is an important first step to starting your career in a gratifying occupation where helping customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician programs incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to select a school 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 suggestions you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the appropriate education and determination you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in College Alaska.