Pharmacy Tech College
How to Select the Right One Near Gardendale Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Gardendale AL, you may be pondering how to select the right college to receive your education and training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? When looking for pharmacy technician programs, many potential students start by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While tuition and location are significant factors when picking a college, they are not the only ones. Internship and job placement programs in addition to accreditation are equally important if not more so as cost and location. You may also decide to research a few accredited pharmacy tech online programs as an option to attending classes on campus. We will cover these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, 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 Description
Pharmacy technicians have many job functions, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Gardendale AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Gardendale AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, many Gardendale AL employers will only employ a tech that has earned certification. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requires that the applicant 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 graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Classes Online
Before selecting a pharmacist tech online college, it's necessary to realize that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in a local Gardendale pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech so as to receive some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Gardendale AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, notably for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are reviewing 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 instruction might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
After you have determined whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy tech schools to select from in the Gardendale AL area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational 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 Gardendale home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other factors that you must take into consideration so that you may adequately compare programs. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a complete quality education. Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it might assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Gardendale AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician school needs to ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This requirement can be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Gardendale AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first position in Gardendale AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some help. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a number of students, the school they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Gardendale AL home. Students who have chosen 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 concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might need 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 kind of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist tech college you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Gardendale AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative 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 might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Gardendale Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the best pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech programs incorporate both classroom and clinical training. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the right education and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Gardendale Alabama.