Pharmacy Tech Program
How to Pick the Best One Near Decatur Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near Decatur AL, you might be wondering how to choose the right school to receive your education and training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical concerns when picking a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation need to be considered also. And if you are interested in attending classes at home by means 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 cover these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Description
Pharmacy technicians have many job duties, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Decatur AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is an extremely satisfying career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two alternatives to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Decatur AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech schools opt to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Decatur AL employers will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requirements are that the applicant be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Colleges Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist technician online program, it's necessary to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in an area Decatur pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy technician so as to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Decatur AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, notably for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials may be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online program you are looking at 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 structured form of education, then online instruction may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have decided whether you wish to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech programs to pick from in the Decatur AL area and throughout the United States, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Decatur home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are several other issues that you need to consider so that you may effectively 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 pharmacist tech colleges and trade schools have earned a regional or national 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 screened and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance education. Be sure to verify that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it might help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And many Decatur AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but numerous employers prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician college needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of work experience. This condition can be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be fulfilled with an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the schools have associations with Decatur AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Decatur AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any support. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For a lot of students, the school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Decatur AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local 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 be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy technician program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Decatur AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Decatur Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the best pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their health is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech colleges include both clinical and classroom work. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the proper education and determination you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Decatur Alabama.