Pharmacy Tech College
How to Select the Right One Near Alabaster Alabama
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy tech degree or certificate program near Alabaster AL so you can get the proper training to build a career in the rewarding profession of medicine. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? When checking out pharmacy technician programs, many potential students begin by zeroing in on the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While tuition and location are critical concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Job placement and intership programs as well as accreditation are equally important if not more so as location and cost. You may also decide to look into several accredited pharmacy tech online programs as an option to attending classes on campus. We will address these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Description
Pharmacy techs have many job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Alabaster AL 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 drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work after hours is a very fulfilling career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 alternatives to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Alabaster AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Options
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech schools choose to become certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Alabaster AL employers will only employ a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Colleges
Before deciding on a pharmacist tech online training program, it's necessary to understand that most programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in a local Alabaster pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to receive some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Alabaster AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, 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 instruction might be the best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
Once you have decided whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist technician colleges to choose from in the Alabaster AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Alabaster home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are several other issues that you must consider so that you may properly compare programs. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Most pharmacist technician colleges and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a complete superior education. Online colleges may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Be sure to verify that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Alabaster AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous employers desire that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacy technician college needs to prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This requirement may be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires a year of experience for certification, which can be satisfied by means of 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 degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Alabaster AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Getting that first job in Alabaster AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting endeavor without any help. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has a good reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Alabaster AL 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally 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 way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Alabaster AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Alabaster Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the best pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where helping people with their wellness is your objective. In the past, many pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy technician colleges incorporate both laboratory and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the proper education and commitment you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Alabaster Alabama.