Pharmacy Tech Training Program
How to Find the Best One Near Athens Alabama
Now it’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Athens AL so you can get the proper training to begin a career in the rewarding field of medicine. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many future students start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant 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 location and cost. And if you are interested in studying in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy technicians have various job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Athens AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is an extremely gratifying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Athens AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Choices
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to become certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, many Athens AL employers will only employ a tech 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 applicant 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 applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every 2 years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
Before choosing a pharmacy tech online school, it's important to understand that most schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Athens pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Athens AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
Once you have decided whether you wish to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech colleges to select from in the Athens AL area and throughout the Country, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Athens residence. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are several other variables that you must take into consideration so that you may properly compare programs. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? Many pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Make sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program together with the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Athens AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacist technician college should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This condition may be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Athens AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first position in Athens AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult task without any assistance. Find out if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Athens AL home. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist technician school you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Athens AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Athens Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the right pharmacy technician training is an important first step to starting your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician colleges incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's important to select a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the proper training and determination you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Athens Alabama.