How to Select the Right Pharmacist Technician College Near El Mirage Arizona
Having decided to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near El MirageAZ, you may be thinking about how to select the right college to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find schools that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. Many prospective students start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important factors when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. And if you are interested in studying at home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Function of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job responsibilities, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed El Mirage AZ pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily services a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is a very gratifying career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree and Certificate Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially two alternatives to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved El Mirage AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many El Mirage AZ employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 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, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by both programs, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Programs
Before selecting a pharmacist tech online training program, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in an area El Mirage pharmacy or health center 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 non-clinical portion of the training can be taken online in your El Mirage AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online schools are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online instruction might be the best choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
Once you have determined whether you want to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech colleges to select from in the El Mirage AZ area and throughout the United States, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your El Mirage home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are many other factors that you must take into consideration in order to effectively compare schools. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Tech College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many El Mirage 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 required in every state, but a number of employers desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician school needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This qualification can be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates 1 year of experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the schools have associations with El Mirage Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first position in El Mirage AZ upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a challenging task without any support. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their El Mirage AZ home. Students who have opted 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. One thing 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 commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable 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 decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist technician school you ultimately select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the El Mirage AZ area, make certain that they are offered. 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 may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Right El Mirage Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the right pharmacy technician training is an important first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting people with their health is your objective. In the past, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician schools include both clinical and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to enroll in a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the appropriate training and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacist technician in El Mirage Arizona.