How to Select the Right Pharmacy Technician School Near Flagstaff Arizona
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near FlagstaffAZ, you may be wondering just how to pick the ideal school to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. Many potential students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical factors when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation should be evaluated also. And if you are interested in studying in your home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below
The Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Flagstaff AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, 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 payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is a very satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Flagstaff AZ pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should furnish the proper 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 many graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to become certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Flagstaff 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 requirements are that the applicant be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Classes Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online program, it's necessary to realize that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in an area Flagstaff pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken over the internet in your Flagstaff AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that each online program you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, 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 instruction may be the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
Once you have determined whether you would like to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist technician programs to choose from in the Flagstaff AZ area and throughout the Country, 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 probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Flagstaff home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are several other variables that you need to consider so that you may properly compare colleges. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician colleges and trade schools have earned a national or regional 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 evaluated and verified to provide a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Make sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you get a superior education, it might help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Flagstaff AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician program needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This condition may be fulfilled by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which may be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the schools have associations with Flagstaff Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial position in Flagstaff AZ upon graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any support. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will need to be within commuting distance of their Flagstaff AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching 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 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 tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacy technician program you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Flagstaff AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Flagstaff Pharmacy Technician School
Getting the right pharmacist tech training is a critical first step to starting your career in a fulfilling profession where helping customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, most pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech schools include both classroom and clinical work. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to choose a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the appropriate education and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Flagstaff Arizona.