Pharmacy Tech College
How to Pick the Best One Near Anniston Alabama
Now it’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Anniston AL so you can get the right training to begin a career in the rewarding field of healthcare. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? When looking for pharmacy technician programs, the majority of students start by targeting 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 only ones. Job placement and intership programs as well as accreditation are just as important if not more so as cost and location. You may also choose to research some accredited pharmacy tech online programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. 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 classes.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Duties
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Anniston AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is a very satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two options to becoming a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Anniston AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the necessary 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 technician schools choose to get certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Anniston AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requirements are that the applicant be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Schools Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online school, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in an area Anniston pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech so as to obtain some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed online in your Anniston AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online training might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
After you have decided whether you want to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist tech programs to pick from in the Anniston AL area and throughout the USA, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Anniston home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other variables that you should consider in order to properly compare schools. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? Many pharmacist technician programs and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you get a superior education, it can assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Anniston AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many employers prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacy tech school needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This requirement may be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through 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 technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the schools have associations with Anniston AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Anniston AL upon 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 placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Anniston AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally 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 student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacy tech program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Anniston AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Anniston Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the right pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping people with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech programs include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to enroll in 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 make use of our other suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the ideal choice. With the right training and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Anniston Alabama.