Pharmacy Tech Training Program
How to Enroll In the Right One Near Helena Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near Helena AL, you might be thinking about how to choose the best school to receive your education and training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? When checking out pharmacy technician programs, many potential students begin by zeroing in on those that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are critical factors when deciding on a school, they are not the only ones. Job placement and intership programs in addition to accreditation are equally important if not more so as location and cost. You may also want to take a look at some accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will go over these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Duties
Pharmacy technicians have various job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Helena AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily duties a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared 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 techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is a very satisfying career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two alternatives to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Helena AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy tech schools elect to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Helena AL pharmacies will only hire a tech 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 one or more years of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
Before choosing a pharmacist tech online program, it's important to understand that most programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local Helena pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken over the internet in your Helena AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, notably for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online colleges are frequently less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the best choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
Once you have decided whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician programs to pick from in the Helena AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Helena home. If you are willing to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are many other issues that you must consider so that you may adequately compare schools. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to offer a complete quality education. Online colleges may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a superior education, it can help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Helena AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many employers prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacist tech school should prep its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement can be satisfied by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires one year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled by means of an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work 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. Find out if the colleges have associations with Helena AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first position in Helena AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult endeavor without some assistance. Find out if the colleges 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 college has a good reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Helena AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist technician school you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Helena AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Helena Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the ideal pharmacy tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where helping people with their wellness is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist technician programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to select a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the appropriate education and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Helena Alabama.