How to Select the Best Pharmacy Technician College Near Apache Junction Arizona
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Apache JunctionAZ, you may be thinking about just how to choose the ideal program to get your education and training. Usually the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are critical factors when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at 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 some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Role of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Apache Junction AZ pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily services a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is an extremely gratifying career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Apache Junction AZ pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Available Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs opt to get certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Also, a number of Apache Junction AZ employers will only employ a tech 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 candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Classes Online
Before choosing a pharmacy tech online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Apache Junction pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Apache Junction AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and study materials may be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online classes might be the right solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Technician Schools
Once you have decided whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist technician colleges to choose from in the Apache Junction AZ area and throughout the United States, so you must 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 initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Apache Junction residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are several other issues that you must take into consideration so that you may properly compare schools. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Most pharmacist technician colleges and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a complete quality education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it may help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Apache Junction AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech college should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This condition may be fulfilled by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Apache Junction Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial job in Apache Junction AZ upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a difficult task without some support. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs. If they do, 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 profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Apache Junction AZ home. Individuals who have chosen 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. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. 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 instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist tech program you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Apache Junction AZ area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Apache Junction Pharmacy Technician School
Finding the ideal pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your mission. In the past, many pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist tech schools incorporate both laboratory and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to choose 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 additional suggestions you will be able to compare programs so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the right training and dedication you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Apache Junction Arizona.