How to Pick the Right Pharmacist Tech College Near Mesa Arizona
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near MesaAZ, you may be wondering just how to pick the best program to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to find colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. A number of future students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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The Role of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job functions, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Mesa AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Enter customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage 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, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is an extremely gratifying career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also include an internship at an accepted Mesa AZ pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically involves 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 can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacist Tech Available Certifications
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech programs opt to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Mesa AZ pharmacies will only employ a technician that is certified. There are two 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, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which can be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Classes Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist tech online training program, it's important to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Mesa pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech so as to get some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Mesa AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials may be reduced 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 confirm that each online college you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online instruction might be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacist Technician Programs
After you have determined whether you wish to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech programs to select from in the Mesa AZ area and throughout the USA, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for colleges that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Mesa residence. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other factors that you should take into consideration so that you may adequately compare colleges. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacist Tech Program Accredited? Many pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to furnish a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online education. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program together with the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it might assist in acquiring 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 Mesa AZ employers 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 required in every state, but numerous employers desire that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech college needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This condition may be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which can be fulfilled with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Mesa Arizona area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial job in Mesa AZ upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any support. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Mesa AZ home. Those who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? 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. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student 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 speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy tech college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Mesa AZ area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Mesa Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the right pharmacy technician training is an important first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where helping people with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech programs include both classroom and clinical training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to choose a school 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 evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the best choice. With the appropriate education and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Mesa Arizona.