Pharmacy Tech Course
How to Find the Best One Near Birmingham Alabama
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Birmingham AL in order to get the proper training to build a career in the rewarding field of medicine. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? When looking for pharmacy technician programs, many potential students start by targeting the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are significant factors when picking a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated as well. 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 college will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy techs have many job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Birmingham AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever give medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the common daily duties a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is a very gratifying career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Birmingham AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools choose to become certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Birmingham AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year 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 each program, which can be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Programs Online
Before selecting a pharmacist technician online training program, it's important to realize that most schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in an area Birmingham pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician so as to get some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your Birmingham AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, notably for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online classes may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Programs
Once you have decided whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, 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 a large number of pharmacist technician schools to choose from in the Birmingham AL area and throughout the United States, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Birmingham residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are many other factors that you should consider so that you may effectively compare colleges. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? Many pharmacy technician colleges and vocational schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a complete superior education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Be sure to check 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. Besides helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Birmingham AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech college needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of job experience. This requirement may be met by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates a year of professional experience for certification, which can be met by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work 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. Find out if the programs have associations with Birmingham AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Finding that initial job in Birmingham AL after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult undertaking without some assistance. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Birmingham AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often 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.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist tech college you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Birmingham Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech colleges include both classroom and clinical training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the right education and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Birmingham Alabama.