How to Choose the Right Pharmacist Tech School Near Gilbert Arizona
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near GilbertAZ, you may be thinking about how to choose the ideal program to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. Many prospective students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important factors when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated as well. And if you are interested in studying in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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The Role of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy techs have various job duties, but their primary responsibility 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 good customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, 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 low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is an extremely satisfying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Gilbert AZ pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech colleges choose to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Gilbert AZ employers will only employ a technician 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, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Classes Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy technician online training program, it's necessary to realize that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is commonly satisfied in a local Gilbert pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy tech so as to acquire some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken online in your Gilbert AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online school you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online classes may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you wish to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy technician schools to choose from in the Gilbert AZ area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for programs that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Gilbert home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are several other issues that you need to take into consideration in order to effectively compare programs. The following questions will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? Most pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have acquired a regional or national 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 evaluated and certified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Don't forget to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a quality education, it can assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Gilbert AZ employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech college should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This qualification can be met by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which may be met by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Ask if the schools have associations with Gilbert Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first position in Gilbert AZ upon graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any assistance. Ask if the schools 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 indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Gilbert AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student 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 an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist tech program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Gilbert AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Gilbert Pharmacy Technician Course
Getting the ideal pharmacist tech training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a rewarding profession where assisting customers with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech schools incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a college that is accredited and will prep 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 colleges so that you are sure to make the best choice. With the proper education and commitment you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Gilbert Arizona.