How to Enroll In the Right Pharmacy Tech Course Near Apache Junction Arizona
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Apache JunctionAZ, you might be thinking about just how to pick the right college to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to find colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. A number of potential students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are critical concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated also. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Function of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have many job duties, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Apache Junction AZ pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone 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
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work after hours is a very satisfying career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically 2 alternatives to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Apache Junction AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Available
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools opt to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of Apache Junction AZ pharmacies will only hire a technician that has earned certification. 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 only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Schools Online
Before selecting a pharmacy technician online college, it's necessary to realize that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area Apache Junction pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to receive some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken over the internet in your Apache Junction AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, notably for those who keep working while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses 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 essential for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online college you are considering 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 formal type of education, then online classes might be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy tech programs to pick from in the Apache Junction AZ area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical 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 Apache Junction residence. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are many other factors that you should consider so that you may properly compare colleges. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacist Tech Program Accredited? Most pharmacist tech colleges and trade schools have obtained a national or regional 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 offer a complete superior education. Online colleges may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance learning. Make sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Apache Junction AZ employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of employers prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech program needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This condition may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the schools have associations with Apache Junction Arizona area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Apache Junction AZ upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult endeavor without some support. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement 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 creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Apache Junction AZ residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist tech college you ultimately choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Apache Junction AZ area, check that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Apache Junction Pharmacy Technician Program
Receiving the best pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where assisting customers with their health is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech programs incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to choose a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate education and commitment you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Apache Junction Arizona.