How to Choose the Right Pharmacist Tech School Near Gilbert Arizona
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near GilbertAZ, you might be wondering how to pick the right school to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. A number of future students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below
The Duties of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Gilbert AZ pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily duties a pharmacy technician may carry out are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. 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 at times having to work off-hours is a very rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 options to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Gilbert AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Gilbert AZ pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. 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, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Schools Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacist technician online school, it's necessary to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in an area Gilbert pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Gilbert AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, notably for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. 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 college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online classes might be the best solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have decided whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy technician programs to choose from in the Gilbert AZ area and throughout the United States, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for programs that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Gilbert home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are many other issues that you should take into consideration so that you may effectively compare programs. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician colleges and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance learning. Be sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program together with the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Gilbert AZ employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but numerous employers prefer that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacist technician program should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of job experience. This qualification can be met by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which may be satisfied with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the schools have associations with Gilbert Arizona area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial job in Gilbert AZ after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging undertaking without some support. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Gilbert AZ home. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately pick can provide 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 Gilbert AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Gilbert Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the right pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a gratifying profession where assisting people with their health is your mission. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician programs include both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the right training and commitment you can accomplish your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Gilbert Arizona.