Pharmacy Tech Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Florence Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Florence AL, you may be pondering how to pick the ideal program to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate schools that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. When checking out pharmacy technician schools, many potential students begin by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While tuition and location are critical factors when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in studying in your home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online program will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Description
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Florence AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily services a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to becoming 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 accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Florence AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools choose to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Florence AL employers will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are two 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, 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 candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
Before selecting a pharmacy tech online college, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is commonly satisfied in a local Florence pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to get some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken over the internet in your Florence AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online colleges are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and study materials can be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online school you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online classes might be the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
Once you have decided whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are many pharmacist tech programs to pick from in the Florence AL area and throughout the USA, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community 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 commuting distance from your Florence home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are several other issues that you should consider in order to effectively compare programs. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Most pharmacy technician colleges and trade schools have acquired a regional or national 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 screened and verified to offer a complete superior education. Online colleges may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program together with the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it can assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Florence AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many employers desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacist technician college needs to prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This requirement may be fulfilled by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires a year of job experience for certification, which may be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the colleges have a working relationship with Florence AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Florence AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting task without some assistance. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Florence AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep 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 might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist tech program you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Florence AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Florence Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the best pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where helping people with their health is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy technician programs incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to select a program 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 make use of our additional tips you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate training and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Florence Alabama.