How to Pick the Best Pharmacy Tech Course Near Flagstaff Arizona
Having decided to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near FlagstaffAZ, you may be thinking about just how to choose the right school to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. Many future students begin 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 picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation must be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in studying at home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, 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 Duties of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Flagstaff AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice relating to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily services a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is an extremely fulfilling career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
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 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 normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Flagstaff AZ pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Technician Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech colleges choose to get certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, a number of Flagstaff AZ employers will only hire 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 candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by each program, which can be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Programs Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist technician online school, it's important to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area Flagstaff pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy technician in order to receive some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken online in your Flagstaff AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online classes may be the best solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Courses
Once you have determined whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy tech colleges to choose from in the Flagstaff AZ area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Flagstaff residence. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are many other variables that you need to consider 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 Pharmacist Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. One of 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 offer a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Make sure to verify that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Flagstaff AZ employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many employers prefer that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician school should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of job experience. This requirement can be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical 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 Flagstaff Arizona area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial job in Flagstaff AZ after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any support. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Flagstaff AZ residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need 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.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy technician program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Flagstaff 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 credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Find the Right Flagstaff Pharmacy Technician School
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting people with their health is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians 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 offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician colleges include both clinical and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to select a program 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 tips you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the best choice. With the right education and determination you can reach your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Flagstaff Arizona.