How to Select the Best Pharmacist Technician College Near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near FairbanksAK, you might be pondering how to pick 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. Many potential students begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. And if you prefer studying in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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The Role of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job responsibilities, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Fairbanks AK pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is an extremely gratifying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree and Certificate Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Fairbanks AK pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Available Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, many Fairbanks AK employers will only employ a technician 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 candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every two years by each program, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Schools Online
Before deciding on a pharmacist technician online training program, it's important to understand that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is commonly satisfied in an area Fairbanks pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to receive some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Fairbanks AK home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online college you are considering 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 classes might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have determined whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are many pharmacist technician programs to choose from in the Fairbanks AK area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Fairbanks residence. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are many other variables that you should consider in order to adequately compare programs. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacist Tech College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. 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 recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Fairbanks AK employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy technician program should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This condition may be met by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which may be satisfied by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Fairbanks Alaska area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Securing that first position in Fairbanks AK after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult task without any help. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Fairbanks AK home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically 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 Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist technician program you finally pick 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 evening or weekend classes in the Fairbanks AK area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Pharmacy Tech Course
Finding the ideal pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting people with their wellness is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician programs incorporate both clinical and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's important to select a program that is accredited and will ready 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 evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate training and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Fairbanks Alaska.