How to Pick the Right Pharmacist Technician Program Near El Mirage Arizona
Having decided to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near El MirageAZ, you might be thinking about how to select the right program to get your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. Many potential students start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical concerns when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation must be considered also. And if you prefer attending classes at home in front of your computer as opposed to 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 comparing 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 classes.
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The Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed El Mirage AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily functions a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work after hours is an extremely rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degree and Certificate Programs
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two alternatives to training to be a tech 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 provide an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted El Mirage AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician programs opt to get certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of El Mirage AZ pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer 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 only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Online Colleges
Prior to selecting a pharmacist technician online college, it's important to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in an area El Mirage pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to get some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your El Mirage AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, notably for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online schools are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive 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 program 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 instruction may be the best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Courses
After you have determined whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician programs to pick from in the El Mirage AZ area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your El Mirage residence. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other issues that you must take into consideration so that you may effectively compare programs. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacist Tech College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician colleges and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online colleges may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, it might help in acquiring financial aid 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 El Mirage AZ employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but numerous pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech school needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This qualification can be fulfilled by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire 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 meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with El Mirage Arizona area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Securing that initial job in El Mirage AZ upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a daunting task without any support. Find out if the schools you are researching 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 a good reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their El Mirage AZ residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy tech program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the El Mirage AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right El Mirage Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where helping people with their health is your mission. In the past, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician programs incorporate both laboratory and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to compare programs so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate education and commitment you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in El Mirage Arizona.