Pharmacy Tech College
How to Select the Best One Near Alexander City Alabama
Now it’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy tech degree or certificate program near Alexander City AL in order to receive the proper training to build a career in the rewarding field of healthcare. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students start by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are important factors when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Internship and job placement programs in addition to accreditation are equally important if not more so as location and cost. And if you prefer attending classes in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and 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 advantages of online programs.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Alexander City AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily duties a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete 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 very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is a very rewarding career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
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 two alternatives to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Alexander City AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy tech programs elect to get certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Alexander City AL employers will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide 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 finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Programs Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist technician online program, it's necessary to understand that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in an area Alexander City pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to get some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online in your Alexander City AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
After you have decided whether you would like to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy technician colleges to select from in the Alexander City AL area and throughout the United States, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for colleges that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Alexander City home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other variables that you need to take into consideration in order to properly compare programs. The following questions will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician colleges 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Make sure to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Alexander City AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many pharmacies desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician school should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This qualification may be fulfilled by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires 1 year of experience for certification, which may be fulfilled by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech 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 an excellent way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Alexander City AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Getting that first position in Alexander City AL after graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some help. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Alexander City AL 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. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacy tech program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Alexander City AL area, make certain 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 have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Alexander City Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the best pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting people with their health is your mission. In the past, many pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician programs include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to select a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and 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 right choice. With the proper training and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Alexander City Alabama.