Pharmacy Tech Certificate Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Hueytown Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Hueytown AL, you may be wondering how to select the ideal program to receive your education and training. Usually the initial step is to locate schools that offer the diploma or degree that you are interested in. Many prospective students begin by searching for colleges that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important factors when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Internship and job placement programs as well as accreditation are just as important if not more so as location and cost. You might also decide to research a few accredited pharmacy tech online programs as an option to attending classes on campus. We will address these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Description
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job functions, but their principal responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Hueytown AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent 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 need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily services a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. 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 occasionally having to work after hours is an extremely gratifying career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Hueytown AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Options
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools elect to become certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Hueytown AL employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requirements are that the applicant 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 just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which can be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist tech online training program, it's necessary to realize that most schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in a local Hueytown pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken online in your Hueytown AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and course materials may be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online college you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less supervised form of education, then online training might be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
After you have decided whether you wish to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are numerous pharmacist tech schools to pick from in the Hueytown AL area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Hueytown home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are several other factors that you should consider so that you may adequately compare programs. The questions below will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? Most pharmacy technician colleges and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to provide a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Hueytown 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 mandated in all states, but many pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacy technician college needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This condition can be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates one year of professional experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Hueytown AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial position in Hueytown AL after graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without any help. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Hueytown AL residence. Those who have decided 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. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the College 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 particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Hueytown AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Hueytown Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the best pharmacy tech training is an important first step to starting your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping customers with their health is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist tech schools incorporate both classroom and clinical training. As we have discussed in this article, it's important to choose a program that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the proper training and determination you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Hueytown Alabama.