Pharmacy Tech College
How to Select the Right One Near Bessemer Alabama
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy tech certificate or degree program near Bessemer AL so you can receive the right training to begin a career in the rewarding field of medicine. Of course the first step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant concerns when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Job placement and intership programs in addition to accreditation are just as important if not more so as location and cost. And if you prefer studying in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Description
Pharmacy technicians have many job functions, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Bessemer AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, 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 lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two 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 typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Bessemer AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to become certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Bessemer AL employers will only hire a tech that is certified. 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 at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Programs Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy technician online college, it's necessary to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in a local Bessemer pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken online in your Bessemer AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online colleges are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training might be the ideal solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
Once you have determined whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician programs to select from in the Bessemer AL area and throughout the United States, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Bessemer home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other factors that you should consider in order to adequately compare programs. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have obtained a national or regional 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 programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Don't forget to confirm that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with helping make sure that you get a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Bessemer AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech school needs to prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This requirement may be met by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled with 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 practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Find out if the schools have associations with Bessemer AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Getting that first position in Bessemer AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging undertaking without some help. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of employer relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Bessemer AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average 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 a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist tech school you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Bessemer AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Bessemer Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the ideal pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your objective. In the past, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician colleges incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the appropriate training and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Bessemer Alabama.