How to Enroll In the Best Pharmacist Technician College Near Mesa Arizona
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near MesaAZ, you may be wondering how to select the best program to get your education and training. Of course the first step is to find colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. Many future students begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important concerns when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be considered as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Duties of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job duties, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Mesa AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice relating to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily tasks a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is a very satisfying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Diplomas
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally 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. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Mesa AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech colleges elect to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Mesa AZ employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by both programs, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Colleges Online
Before selecting a pharmacist technician online program, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in an area Mesa pharmacy or hospital 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 work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken online in your Mesa AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online instruction might be the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacist Tech Programs
Once you have determined whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, 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 tech programs to choose from in the Mesa AZ area and throughout the United States, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Mesa residence. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are many other variables that you need to take into consideration so that you may adequately compare colleges. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacist Technician School Accredited? Many pharmacy tech colleges and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected 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 comprehensive quality education. Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance learning. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Mesa AZ pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many employers desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician school should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This qualification may be satisfied by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates 1 year of job experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech 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 an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the programs have associations with Mesa Arizona area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first position in Mesa AZ after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a difficult endeavor without some help. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will need to be within travelling distance of their Mesa AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing 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 generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist technician program you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Mesa AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Mesa Pharmacy Technician School
Receiving the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their wellness is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech colleges incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to choose a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the right education and dedication you can achieve your goal of becoming a pharmacy tech in Mesa Arizona.