Pharmacy Tech College
How to Choose the Right One Near Bessemer Alabama
It’s time to select and enroll in a pharmacy tech degree or certificate program near Bessemer AL so you can receive the right training to build a career in the rewarding field of medicine. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? When looking for pharmacy technician schools, the majority of students start by zeroing in on the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While tuition and location are significant concerns when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be considered as well. You may also want to research a few accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an option to attending classes on campus. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Pharmacy Tech Career Below
Pharmacy Technician Job Duties
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Bessemer AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily services a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Receive and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. 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 diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Bessemer AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech colleges choose to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Bessemer AL employers will only employ a technician that is certified. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Colleges
Before selecting a pharmacy tech online training program, it's necessary to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is commonly satisfied in an area Bessemer pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to obtain some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be taken over the internet in your Bessemer AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, especially for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online colleges are often less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials can be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online school you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
Once you have determined whether you wish to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are many pharmacist tech colleges to pick from in the Bessemer AL area and throughout the USA, so you must 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 programs that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Bessemer home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are several other issues that you must take into consideration so that you may properly compare colleges. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? Many pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of 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 offer a comprehensive superior education. Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Don't forget to confirm that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you get a quality education, it might assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And many Bessemer AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician school should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This condition may be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Bessemer AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Finding that first position in Bessemer AL upon graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting endeavor without any support. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Bessemer AL residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician program you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Bessemer AL area, make sure 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, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Bessemer Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where helping customers with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician programs include both classroom and clinical training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate education and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Bessemer Alabama.