How to Choose the Right Pharmacist Technician Program Near Maricopa Arizona
Now that you have decided to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near MaricopaAZ, you might be thinking about how to pick the best college to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. Many prospective students begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical factors when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation should be evaluated also. And if you prefer studying at 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 go over these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Job of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Maricopa AZ pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the common daily functions a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare 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 standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is a very satisfying career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Maricopa AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, many Maricopa AZ pharmacies will only employ a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 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 completed a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which can be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Programs Online
Before choosing a pharmacist tech online college, it's important to understand that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Maricopa pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to receive some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Maricopa AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, notably for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online college you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Technician Courses
After you have decided whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are many pharmacy technician programs to choose from in the Maricopa AZ area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Maricopa home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are many other factors that you should take into consideration in order to effectively compare schools. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacist Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician colleges and vocational schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program together with the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training 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 Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech college needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This requirement may be met by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which may be fulfilled with an internship program. One of the best ways to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Maricopa Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first position in Maricopa AZ upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any help. 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 indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Maricopa AZ home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble 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 need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. 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 students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist technician school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Maricopa AZ area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option 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 may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Find the Right Maricopa Pharmacy Technician Course
Finding the right pharmacist technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their health is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech schools incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This is true both for classes online and 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 training and commitment you can realize your goal of becoming a pharmacy technician in Maricopa Arizona.