How to Select the Right Pharmacist Technician College Near Chandler Arizona
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near ChandlerAZ, you may be pondering just how to select the ideal program to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. Many future students begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant factors when selecting a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when comparing 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 a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have various job responsibilities, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Chandler AZ pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, 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 an extremely rewarding career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved Chandler 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 extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, many Chandler AZ employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Programs Online
Before choosing a pharmacy tech online training program, it's necessary to realize that most schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is commonly satisfied in an area Chandler pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech so as to get some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Chandler AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that each online college you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online classes might be the ideal solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
Once you have determined whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are many pharmacist technician programs to select from in the Chandler AZ area and throughout the Country, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Chandler home. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other issues that you need to consider in order to properly compare colleges. The questions below will help you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Many pharmacy tech colleges and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified 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 education. Make sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, it might help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Chandler AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many employers desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech school needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of job experience. This condition can be fulfilled by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Chandler Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Finding that initial job in Chandler AZ after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a daunting task without some help. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Chandler AZ home. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a college 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 for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average 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 speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacist tech school you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Chandler AZ area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Best Chandler Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is an important first step to launching your career in a fulfilling profession where helping customers with their health is your mission. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician programs include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are sure to make the best selection. With the proper education and determination you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Chandler Arizona.