Pharmacy Tech Certificate Program
How to Pick the Best One Near Athens Alabama
Now it’s time to select and enroll in a pharmacy tech certificate or degree program near Athens AL in order to receive the proper training to build a career in the rewarding field of medicine. Of course the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. A number of potential students start by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important factors when selecting a school, they are not the sole ones. Job placement and intership programs as well as accreditation are equally important if not more so as cost and location. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Description
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job duties, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Athens AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two alternatives to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Athens AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to get certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Athens AL pharmacies will only hire 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 applicant be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Programs Online
Before choosing a pharmacy technician online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in an area Athens pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to acquire some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online in your Athens AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, especially for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any 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 learn with a less supervised form of education, then online classes might be the ideal solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
Once 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 alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech colleges to pick from in the Athens AL area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Athens home. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are many other factors that you should take into consideration in order to properly compare schools. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to provide a complete 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 confirm that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you get a superior education, it might help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Athens AL 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 required in every state, but many pharmacies desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech college needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This condition may be satisfied by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of job experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Check if the programs have associations with Athens AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Getting that initial job in Athens AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging endeavor without some help. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Athens 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 importance. Something 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Athens AL area, make sure that they are available. 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 need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Athens Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the right pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a gratifying profession where helping customers with their wellness is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained technicians. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy tech programs include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to choose a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate education and dedication you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Athens Alabama.