Pharmacy Tech Course
How to Enroll In the Best One Near Huntsville Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near Huntsville AL, you may be wondering just how to select the best college to get your education and training. Naturally the first step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. Many future students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are critical factors when choosing a school, they are not the sole ones. Job placement and intership programs as well as accreditation are just as important if not more so as location and cost. You may also choose to research several accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an option to attending classes on campus. We will address these qualifications and 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 benefits of online programs.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Description
Pharmacy techs have various job duties, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Huntsville AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice concerning medications or anything else. Any such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily duties a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work off-hours is an extremely satisfying career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 alternatives to becoming a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Huntsville AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program should furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
Certification is not required in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician colleges opt to get certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Huntsville AL pharmacies will only employ 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 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 just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Colleges Online
Before choosing a pharmacy technician online college, it's necessary to realize that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Huntsville pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to obtain some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Huntsville AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, notably for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online colleges are frequently less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and course materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes may be the ideal solution for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you want to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are many pharmacist tech programs to select from in the Huntsville AL area and throughout the USA, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Huntsville home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other factors that you need to consider so that you may effectively compare schools. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician School Accredited? Many pharmacist technician programs and trade schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to furnish a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Don't forget to verify that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping guarantee that you get a superior education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Huntsville AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech school should ready its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This condition can be satisfied by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which may be fulfilled by means of 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 clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the colleges have associations with Huntsville AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Help? Securing that first job in Huntsville AL after graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging task without any assistance. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Huntsville AL home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps 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 don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student 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 a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy tech program you ultimately select can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Huntsville AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Huntsville Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the right pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a fulfilling profession where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy tech schools incorporate both clinical and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to select a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other tips you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the appropriate training and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Huntsville Alabama.