How to Select the Right Pharmacy Tech School Near Gilbert Arizona
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near GilbertAZ, you might be pondering how to choose the best school to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate colleges that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. A number of potential students begin by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important 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 at home by means of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Job of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have various job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Gilbert AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs 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 occasionally having to work off-hours is a very satisfying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician 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 earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Gilbert AZ pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually requires about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Gilbert AZ employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Colleges Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist tech online training program, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in an area Gilbert pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Gilbert AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online colleges are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials can be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online program 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 learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have determined whether you wish to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician colleges to select from in the Gilbert AZ area and throughout the USA, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Gilbert home. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other issues that you need to take into consideration in order to properly compare colleges. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacy technician 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). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to provide a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Make sure to check that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it might assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Gilbert AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician college needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This condition may be satisfied by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the colleges have associations with Gilbert Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Gilbert AZ upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any support. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job placement 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 generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Gilbert AZ home. Students who have decided 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 decide 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacy tech program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gilbert AZ area, confirm 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 enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Gilbert Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the right pharmacist technician training is an important first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting people with their health is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech colleges include both classroom and laboratory training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to choose a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to compare programs so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the appropriate training and commitment you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Gilbert Arizona.