How to Pick the Right Pharmacist Tech College Near Flagstaff Arizona
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near FlagstaffAZ, you might be wondering just how to select the right college to get your education and training. Of course the initial step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. A number of future students start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are significant concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation should be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in studying in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Job of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have various job responsibilities, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Flagstaff AZ pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 options to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Flagstaff AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician colleges choose to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Also, many Flagstaff AZ pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Classes
Before choosing a pharmacy tech online college, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in a local Flagstaff pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken online in your Flagstaff AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online programs are frequently less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online training may be the best choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Colleges
Once you have determined whether you would like to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are numerous pharmacist tech programs to pick from in the Flagstaff AZ area and throughout the United States, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Flagstaff residence. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are several other issues that you must take into consideration in order to effectively compare colleges. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacist Tech College Accredited? Most pharmacy tech colleges and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to provide a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Flagstaff AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacist technician program should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement can be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Flagstaff Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Flagstaff AZ after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting endeavor without any help. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Flagstaff AZ home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt 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 attend part-time, check 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Flagstaff Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the ideal pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where helping customers with their wellness is your objective. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician colleges incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the right training and commitment you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Flagstaff Arizona.