Pharmacy Tech College
How to Pick the Best One Near Fairhope Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech degree or certificate near Fairhope AL, you may be thinking about how to choose the ideal school to get your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to find schools that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students start by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant concerns when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Internship and job placement programs in addition to accreditation are just as important if not more so as location and cost. And if you prefer studying at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifications 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 programs.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Description
Pharmacy techs have many job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Fairhope AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is a very rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Fairhope AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Options
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech schools elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, many Fairhope AL pharmacies will only employ a tech that is certified. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Programs
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist tech online program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in an area Fairhope pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to get some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken over the internet in your Fairhope AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and study materials can be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online program you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, 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 training may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
Once you have decided whether you would like to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist tech colleges to choose from in the Fairhope AL area and throughout the United States, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Fairhope residence. 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 a number of other issues that you must consider so that you may properly compare programs. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? Many pharmacy technician colleges and trade schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a comprehensive quality education. Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it might assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may 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 Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of employers prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician college needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This qualification may be met by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which can be met with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Fairhope AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first position in Fairhope AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging undertaking without any help. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they select will need to be within travelling distance of their Fairhope AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy tech college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Fairhope AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Fairhope Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the ideal pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a fulfilling profession where helping customers with their wellness is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician programs incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to select a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the right education and commitment you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Fairhope Alabama.