How to Select the Right Pharmacy Technician Course Near Maricopa Arizona
Having decided to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near MaricopaAZ, you may be pondering just how to pick the best school to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to find colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many potential students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important factors when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation need to be evaluated as well. And if you prefer studying in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Tech
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job responsibilities, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Maricopa AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is a very satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Certificates
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two alternatives to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Maricopa AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second option 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 expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to become certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Maricopa AZ employers will only employ a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that provide 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 finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Schools Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacist tech online school, it's important to understand that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is typically satisfied in an area Maricopa pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Maricopa AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, especially for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online training might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Courses
Once you have determined whether you wish 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 start to target your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy technician programs to choose from in the Maricopa AZ area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Maricopa home. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other factors that you need to take into consideration in order to properly compare schools. The following questions will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? Many pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to provide a complete superior education. Online colleges may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Make sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program together with the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring 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 Maricopa AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many employers desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech school needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This condition can be satisfied by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Maricopa Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Finding that initial job in Maricopa AZ upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a difficult endeavor without some help. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Maricopa AZ residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician school you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Maricopa AZ area, make certain that they are available. 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 need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Maricopa Pharmacy Technician Course
Receiving the best pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where helping people with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech schools incorporate both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's important to select a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This is true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate training and dedication you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacist tech in Maricopa Arizona.