How to Choose the Best Pharmacy Tech School Near Apache Junction Arizona
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near Apache JunctionAZ, you might be pondering just how to choose the ideal school to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to find colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. A number of future students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are significant concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation must be considered also. And if you prefer attending classes in your home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Job of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, 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 Apache Junction AZ pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily services a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work after hours is a very rewarding career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degree Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician 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 attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved Apache Junction AZ pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech colleges choose to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Apache Junction AZ employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Schools Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacist technician online training program, it's necessary to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in an area Apache Junction pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to get some real world 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 alternative is more accommodating for most students, notably for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes might be the right solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
After you have determined whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are numerous pharmacy tech programs to select from in the Apache Junction AZ area and throughout the United States, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Apache Junction residence. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are many other issues that you must consider so that you may adequately compare programs. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among 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 offer a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally obtain 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 recognized accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And many Apache Junction AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous employers prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacy tech program should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This requirement may be met by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires a year of professional experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Apache Junction Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial job in Apache Junction AZ upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult undertaking without some help. Ask if the schools you are considering 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 profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Apache Junction AZ home. Students 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 importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even 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 commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing 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 final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Apache Junction AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Best Apache Junction Pharmacy Tech Course
Receiving the ideal pharmacist technician training is an important first step to launching your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping people with their health is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer operate this way 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. A large number of pharmacy tech programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to select a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the right education and determination you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Apache Junction Arizona.