Pharmacy Tech Training Program
How to Enroll In the Right One Near Birmingham Alabama
It’s time to select and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Birmingham AL in order to receive the right training to begin a career in the rewarding profession of medicine. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? When looking for pharmacy technician schools, many potential students start by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are significant factors when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Job placement and intership programs in addition to accreditation are just as important if not more so as cost and location. And if you prefer studying at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Duties
Pharmacy techs have various job responsibilities, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Birmingham AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily services a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 alternatives to training to be 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 normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer 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 usually takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech schools choose to get certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, many Birmingham AL pharmacies will only employ 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 applicant be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
Prior to selecting a pharmacist technician online college, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in a local Birmingham pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to receive some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken over the internet in your Birmingham AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, notably for those who keep working while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online instruction might be the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
After you have determined whether you would like to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician colleges to pick from in the Birmingham AL area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Birmingham home. 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 factors that you need to take into consideration so that you may effectively compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Many pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have acquired a regional or national 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 screened and verified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Don't forget to confirm that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. 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 earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician college needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement may be met by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the programs have associations with Birmingham AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Finding that first position in Birmingham AL after graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a daunting undertaking without some help. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Birmingham AL home. Individuals who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 kind of person 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 allow for 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 prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist technician program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Birmingham Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the right pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where assisting people with their health is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech colleges include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to choose a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the proper training and dedication you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Birmingham Alabama.