Pharmacy Tech College
How to Select the Best One Near Decatur Alabama
Now it’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy tech degree or certificate program near Decatur AL in order to get the proper training to begin a career in the rewarding profession of medicine. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? When looking for pharmacy technician schools, the majority of students begin by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest 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 equally important if not more so as cost and location. And if you prefer studying at home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be part of your vetting process. We will address these qualifiers and 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 Responsibilities
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job duties, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Decatur AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily tasks a pharmacy technician may carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit 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 techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work after hours is a very rewarding career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 alternatives to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also require an internship at an approved Decatur AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech schools choose to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, a number of Decatur AL employers will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer 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 completed a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Programs
Before choosing a pharmacy tech online program, it's necessary to understand that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in a local Decatur pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to obtain some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Decatur AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online schools are often less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online classes may be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
Once you have decided whether you would like to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy tech schools to select from in the Decatur AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Decatur 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 issues that you should consider in order to properly compare schools. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? Most pharmacist 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 certified to furnish a complete superior education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Don't forget to check that the certificate or degree program as well as 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 superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Decatur AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of employers prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech school needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This condition may be met by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of experience for certification, which can be met by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train 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. Ask if the programs have associations with Decatur AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Finding that initial position in Decatur AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any assistance. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of employer contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will have to be within driving distance of their Decatur AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist technician school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Decatur AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Decatur Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the ideal pharmacy tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy technician colleges include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to choose a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This is true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the best selection. With the right education and dedication you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Decatur Alabama.