Pharmacy Tech Program
How to Pick the Right One Near Fairhope Alabama
Having decided to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near Fairhope AL, you may be pondering how to choose the right program to receive your education and training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important concerns when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Job placement and intership programs as well as accreditation are equally important if not more so as cost and location. You may also want to research some accredited pharmacy tech online programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will address these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy techs have many job functions, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Fairhope AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the common daily duties a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock 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 evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Certificates and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Fairhope AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools elect to become certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Fairhope AL pharmacies will only hire a technician that is certified. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requirements are 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 called for every two years by each program, which may be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Programs Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in an area Fairhope pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech so as to obtain some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Fairhope AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for most students, notably for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online instruction may be the best solution 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 school or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy tech programs to pick from in the Fairhope AL area and throughout the USA, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Fairhope residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are many other variables that you need to consider so that you may effectively compare programs. The questions below will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician programs 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 evaluated and certified to furnish a complete quality education. Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Besides helping guarantee that you obtain a quality education, it might help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Fairhope AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy technician college should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This condition can be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Fairhope AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Getting that initial position in Fairhope AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement 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 profession generating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Fairhope AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern 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 choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally 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 sort of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical teacher to student 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 an opportunity to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fairhope AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Fairhope Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to starting your career in a fulfilling profession where helping people with their wellness is your mission. In the past, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist technician schools include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to choose a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the proper training and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Fairhope Alabama.