How to Select the Best Pharmacy Technician College Near Coolidge Arizona
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near CoolidgeAZ, you may be thinking about how to pick the ideal school to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many potential students start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are significant concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation must be considered also. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing 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 courses.
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The Role of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have many job functions, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Coolidge AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily services a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are ready 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 profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is an extremely satisfying career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Training Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two options to training to be a technician 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 finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Coolidge AZ pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally requires 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 furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to become certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Coolidge AZ employers will only employ a technician that is certified. There are 2 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, has graduated from high school, has completed 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 exam. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which can be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Programs
Before choosing a pharmacist technician online college, it's important to understand that most schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in an area Coolidge pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to acquire some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be taken online in your Coolidge AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, especially for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training might be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Technician Programs
After you have determined whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist tech programs to choose from in the Coolidge AZ area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Coolidge residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are many other issues that you should take into consideration in order to effectively compare programs. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Many pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a complete superior education. Online colleges may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Be sure to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Coolidge 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 mandated in every state, but many employers prefer that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacist technician program needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement can be met by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be met by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the colleges have a working relationship with Coolidge Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial job in Coolidge AZ upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any help. Ask if the schools 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 field creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Coolidge AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually 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 far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering 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 decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy technician school you finally select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Coolidge AZ area, make sure 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 have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Best Coolidge Pharmacy Technician School
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting people with their wellness is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy tech schools incorporate both clinical and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to select a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the right training and determination you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Coolidge Arizona.