Pharmacy Tech Certificate Program
How to Enroll In the Right One Near Helena Alabama
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Helena AL in order to receive the right training to build a career in the rewarding profession of medicine. Naturally the initial step is to locate schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. 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 important factors when deciding on a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated also. And if you prefer attending classes in your home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Description
Pharmacy techs have many job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Helena AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared 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 weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Diplomas
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two options to training to be a tech 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 introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Helena AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which generally requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Options
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to get certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Helena 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 requires 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 only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Colleges
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy tech online school, it's necessary to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually satisfied in a local Helena pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to obtain some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Helena AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for most students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online school you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online instruction might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have decided whether you would like to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician programs to select from in the Helena AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Helena residence. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are several other variables that you must consider so that you may effectively compare schools. The following questions will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacist tech colleges and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to provide a complete quality education. Online programs may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Helena AL pharmacies 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 mandated in every state, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacy technician program should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This qualification may be satisfied by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of experience for certification, which may be met with 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 tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the programs have associations with Helena AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Getting that first position in Helena AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult endeavor without some help. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. If they do, 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 sizable network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the school they pick will need to be within commuting distance of their Helena AL home. Those who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges typically charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician program you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, verify 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, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Helena Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the best pharmacy technician training is an important first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping people with their health is your purpose. In the past, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician schools incorporate both classroom and clinical training. As we have covered in this article, it's important to choose a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the proper education and determination you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Helena Alabama.