How to Select the Right Pharmacist Technician Course Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Now that you have made the decision to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near Lake Havasu CityAZ, you may be wondering how to choose the right school to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. A number of future students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important concerns when choosing a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be evaluated as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and some 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 technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job duties, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Lake Havasu City AZ pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily services a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is a very rewarding career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 options to training to be 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 typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Lake Havasu City AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically takes about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech colleges elect to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Lake Havasu City AZ employers will only employ a technician that is certified. 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, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Colleges Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacy tech online training program, it's important to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in an area Lake Havasu City pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to acquire some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken over the internet in your Lake Havasu City AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for most students, notably for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online school you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online instruction may be the best solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Programs
After you have determined whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech colleges to pick from in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and throughout the Country, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Lake Havasu City home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are many other issues that you must take into consideration so that you may adequately compare schools. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? Many pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Make sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it might help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Lake Havasu City AZ employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of employers desire that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacy technician program should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This condition can 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 met by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Check if the colleges have associations with Lake Havasu City Arizona area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Finding that first job in Lake Havasu City AZ after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any support. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Lake Havasu City AZ home. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously 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 perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacy technician program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Lake Havasu City AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Lake Havasu City Pharmacy Technician School
Receiving the ideal pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician colleges include both classroom and clinical training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are sure to make the best selection. With the proper training and determination you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Lake Havasu City Arizona.