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How to Pick the Right Pharmacy Tech Program Near Marana Arizona

Marana Arizona pharmacy tech stocking shelfHaving made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near MaranaAZ, you may be thinking about how to pick the best college to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate colleges 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 residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must 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 program will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.

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The Role of a Pharmacy Technician

Marana Arizona hospital pharmacy technician wearing lab coat

Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Marana AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily functions a pharmacy tech may perform are:

  • Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
  • Fill prescription medications under pharmacist direction
  • Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
  • Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
  • Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
  • Re-supply shelves and audit and manage 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 lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work after hours is a very satisfying career helping customers with their health and well-being.

Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs

Marana Arizona pharmacy shelves with prescriptionsStudents wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 alternatives to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Marana AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.

Pharmacist Technician Certifications Offered

It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Marana AZ employers will only employ a technician that is certified. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:

  • National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
  • Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)

The NHA requires that the applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.

Pharmacy Tech Programs Online

Marana Arizona young woman taking pharmacy technician courses onlineBefore choosing a pharmacist tech online school, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Marana pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to acquire some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken online in your Marana AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online training might be the best option for you.

Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges

Once you have decided whether you wish to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy tech schools to choose from in the Marana AZ area and throughout the Country, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Marana residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are many other variables that you must take into consideration in order to properly compare schools. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final choice.

Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? Most pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected 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 schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Marana 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 mandated in every state, but a number of employers prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech school should prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This qualification may be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.

Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the colleges have a working relationship with Marana Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.

Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial job in Marana AZ upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any assistance. Ask if the schools 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 school has a good reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.

Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Marana AZ residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes 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 bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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 kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy tech school you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Marana AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.

More on How to Train to Become a Pharmacy Technician in Marana

Find the Right Marana Pharmacy Technician Course

Finding the right pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting people with their wellness is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech schools incorporate both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the proper education and dedication you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist technician in Marana Arizona.



 

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