How to Pick the Right Pharmacy Tech College Near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near FairbanksAK, you might be wondering just how to pick the best school to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to find schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. A number of prospective students start by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are significant concerns when picking a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Role of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Fairbanks AK pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Receive and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete 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 the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is a very gratifying career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Fairbanks AK pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should furnish the proper amount 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 every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to get certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Fairbanks AK pharmacies will only hire 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 applicant be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished 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 exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Classes
Prior to selecting a pharmacist tech online school, it's necessary to realize that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in an area Fairbanks pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy tech 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 practical for many students, notably for those who keep working while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are frequently less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm 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 learn with a less formal type of education, then online training may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Courses
After you have decided whether you wish to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician colleges to select from in the Fairbanks AK area and throughout the Country, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Fairbanks home. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are many other factors that you need to consider in order to effectively compare colleges. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Tech School Accredited? Most pharmacist tech colleges and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online colleges may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Make sure to check that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it might help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Fairbanks AK pharmacies 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 every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacy technician college should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This condition may be fulfilled by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate 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 Fairbanks Alaska area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Fairbanks AK after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any support. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Fairbanks AK residence. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy technician school you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Fairbanks AK area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Fairbanks Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the right pharmacist tech training is an important first step to launching your career in a fulfilling profession where assisting people with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, most pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy tech schools include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to choose a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the appropriate education and determination you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Fairbanks Alaska.