How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacy Tech School Near Fountain Hills Arizona
Having decided to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near Fountain HillsAZ, you may be wondering how to select the right school to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. Many prospective students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in attending classes at home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have various job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Fountain Hills AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily services a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work after hours is a very rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two alternatives to training to be a technician 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 accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Fountain Hills AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Technician Available Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Fountain Hills AZ employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Programs
Prior to selecting a pharmacist tech online college, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in an area Fountain Hills pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Fountain Hills AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study 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 critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online program you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online training may be the best option for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacist Tech Courses
Once you have decided whether you want to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist tech schools to pick from in the Fountain Hills AZ area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Fountain Hills 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 issues that you must take into consideration in order to properly compare schools. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Most pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a complete quality education. Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Don't forget to confirm that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Fountain Hills AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist technician school should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This qualification may be fulfilled by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the colleges have a working relationship with Fountain Hills Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial position in Fountain Hills AZ upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging undertaking without any assistance. Find out if the schools you are researching 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 profession generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Fountain Hills AZ home. Students 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 keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy technician school you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fountain Hills 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 carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Find the Right Fountain Hills Pharmacy Technician Program
Getting the ideal pharmacy technician training is an important first step to starting your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting people with their health is your objective. In the past, many pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician colleges incorporate both clinical and classroom work. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to enroll in a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the right education and commitment you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Fountain Hills Arizona.