Pharmacy Tech College
How to Pick the Best One Near Gadsden Alabama
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Gadsden AL in order to get the proper training to build a career in the rewarding profession of medicine. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? When checking out pharmacy technician programs, many potential students begin by targeting the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are important factors when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Job placement and intership programs in addition to accreditation are just as important if not more so as cost and location. And if you prefer studying at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Duties
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job responsibilities, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Gadsden AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily duties a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Input customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage 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, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is a very gratifying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically 2 options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Gadsden AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Options
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, a number of Gadsden AL employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that provide 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 just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Colleges Online
Prior to selecting a pharmacist technician online school, it's important to understand that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local Gadsden pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Gadsden AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online classes might be the best solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
After you have decided whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are many pharmacy technician programs to select from in the Gadsden AL area and throughout the United States, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Gadsden residence. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are many other variables that you should take into consideration in order to effectively compare colleges. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? Most pharmacy tech colleges and vocational 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a complete superior education. Online schools may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online education. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it might help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Gadsden AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech school needs to ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This condition can be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Find out if the colleges have associations with Gadsden AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Securing that initial job in Gadsden AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging task without any help. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they decide on will have to be within travelling distance of their Gadsden AL home. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit way in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Gadsden AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Gadsden Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the right pharmacy technician training is an important first step to starting your career in a rewarding profession where helping people with their health is your mission. In the past, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech schools incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to enroll in a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the right training and dedication you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Gadsden Alabama.