Pharmacy Tech Program
How to Find the Best One Near Madison Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Madison AL, you might be thinking about how to select the ideal program to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are important factors when picking a college, they are not the sole ones. Internship and job placement programs in addition to accreditation are equally important if not more so as cost and location. You might also decide to research some accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an option to attending classes on campus. We will address these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Duties
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job responsibilities, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Madison AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Some of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call 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 technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work after hours is an extremely satisfying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives to training to be a tech regardless if 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 offer an overview to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Madison 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 furnish a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to get certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Madison AL pharmacies will only hire 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 applicant be 18 years or older, 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 graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Classes Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacist technician online college, it's important to understand that most programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local Madison pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to acquire some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed over the internet in your Madison AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, notably for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online program you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online training may be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have decided whether you would like to attain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist tech schools to pick from in the Madison AL area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Madison home. 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 issues that you should consider in order to adequately compare schools. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? Most pharmacy technician colleges and vocational schools have acquired 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 screened and verified to provide a complete superior education. Online colleges may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with online or distance learning. Don't forget to confirm that the degree or certificate program together with the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Madison AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but many pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech program should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of work experience. This qualification can be satisfied by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which may 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 degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Madison AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Finding that first job in Madison AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a daunting endeavor without any assistance. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a substantial network of employer relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they pick will have to be within driving distance of their Madison AL residence. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist tech school you ultimately pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Madison AL area, confirm that they are available. 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 have to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Madison Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the best pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping customers with their wellness is your mission. In the past, most pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy technician 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 prepare you for certification. This applies both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate programs so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the proper training and dedication you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Madison Alabama.