How to Choose the Right Pharmacy Technician College Near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Having decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Catalina FoothillsAZ, you may be thinking about just how to choose the ideal program to receive your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. Many prospective students begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant factors when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation must be considered also. And if you prefer attending classes at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have many job duties, 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 Catalina Foothills AZ pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is a very satisfying career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Training Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 alternatives to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Catalina Foothills AZ pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about two 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 in the future. Either program can provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech schools opt to get certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Catalina Foothills AZ pharmacies will only hire a tech that is certified. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, 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 two years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Schools
Before deciding on a pharmacy technician online program, it's necessary to understand that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in a local Catalina Foothills pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Catalina Foothills AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, notably for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials can be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online training may be the ideal solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Technician Programs
Once you have decided whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are numerous pharmacist tech schools to pick from in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and throughout the USA, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Catalina Foothills residence. If you are able to relocate 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 must consider so that you may effectively compare colleges. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician colleges and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a complete superior education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Don't forget to confirm that the degree or certificate program together with the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Catalina Foothills AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many employers desire that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician college should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates a year of professional experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the programs have associations with Catalina Foothills Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Help? Finding that first job in Catalina Foothills AZ after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult endeavor without some help. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Catalina Foothills AZ residence. Students who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacy tech college you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Catalina Foothills AZ area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Best Catalina Foothills Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the ideal pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their health is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech schools incorporate both classroom and laboratory work. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to select a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and 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 right choice. With the proper education and commitment you can reach your goal to become a pharmacist technician in Catalina Foothills Arizona.