Pharmacy Tech School
How to Find the Right One Near Huntsville Alabama
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Huntsville AL, you may be wondering just how to select the best college to get your education and training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? When looking for pharmacy technician programs, the majority of students begin by zeroing in on the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are important concerns when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. And if you prefer studying at home in front of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Description
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job responsibilities, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Huntsville AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can help customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice relating to medications or anything else. Any such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily duties a pharmacy tech might perform are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work after hours is a very rewarding career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 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 certificate or a diploma, which normally can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Huntsville AL pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which generally involves about two years of studies. Although not needed 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 can furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Choices
Certification is not required in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to get certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Huntsville AL employers will only employ a technician 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 candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which can be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Schools Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacist technician online program, it's important to realize that most schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in an area Huntsville pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to acquire some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your Huntsville AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials can be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online training may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have decided whether you wish to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are many pharmacy tech programs to choose from in the Huntsville AL area and throughout the USA, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Huntsville residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are several other variables that you need to consider in order to effectively compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a complete superior education. Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Huntsville AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but numerous pharmacies desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician school should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement may be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech 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 meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Huntsville AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first position in Huntsville AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult task without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they select will need to be within driving distance of their Huntsville AL home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may 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 to those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacy technician program you finally pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Huntsville AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Huntsville Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the best pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a gratifying profession where helping customers with their health is your mission. In the past, most pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech colleges include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to enroll in 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 make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the proper training and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Huntsville Alabama.