How to Select the Best Pharmacy Tech School Near Maricopa Arizona
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near MaricopaAZ, you may be wondering just how to select the best school to receive your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. A number of potential students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation must be evaluated as well. And if you prefer attending classes in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then finding an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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The Function of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Maricopa AZ pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice concerning medications or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily tasks a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work after hours is an extremely gratifying career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 alternatives to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, 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. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Maricopa AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech colleges choose to get certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Maricopa AZ pharmacies will only hire a technician that is certified. There are two 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 just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which may be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Technician Online Schools
Prior to choosing a pharmacy tech 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 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 in order to obtain some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Maricopa AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for most students, particularly for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online colleges are frequently less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials may be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online classes may be the best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Tech Schools
Once you have determined whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist technician programs to choose from in the Maricopa AZ area and throughout the Country, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Maricopa home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other variables that you need to consider so that you may properly compare programs. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacist technician programs and trade schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among 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 verified to provide a complete quality education. Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Be sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it might help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Maricopa AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies 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 1 year of work experience. This qualification can be satisfied by entering 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 may be satisfied with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the colleges have associations with Maricopa Arizona area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Maricopa AZ after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any help. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Maricopa AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical 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 a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist tech program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Maricopa AZ area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Maricopa Pharmacy Tech Course
Receiving the best pharmacist technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where helping people with their wellness is your mission. In the past, many pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician colleges include both classroom and laboratory training. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to select a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the appropriate education and commitment you can reach your goal to become a pharmacist tech in Maricopa Arizona.