Pharmacy Tech Course
How to Find the Best One Near Mobile Alabama
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near Mobile AL, you may be wondering how to choose the best college to receive your education and training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? When checking out pharmacy technician programs, many potential students start by zeroing in on the ones that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While tuition and location are critical concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. You might also decide to look into some accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will address these qualifications and some others that you will need 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 benefits of online programs.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Duties
Pharmacy technicians have numerous 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 Mobile AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily functions a pharmacy technician may carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Enter customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared 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 on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is a very satisfying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Certificates
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Mobile AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Available
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician programs opt to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Mobile 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 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 professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which can be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Schools Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacy technician 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 commonly fulfilled in an area Mobile pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech in order to acquire some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken online in your Mobile AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for most students, especially for those who continue to work while earning their degree or certificate. And online schools are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials may be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online college you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online training may be the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
Once you have decided whether you wish to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are many pharmacy tech programs to select from in the Mobile AL area and throughout the United States, so you must develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and trade schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for colleges that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Mobile home. If you are able to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are several other variables that you need to take into consideration in order to adequately compare programs. The questions below will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? Most pharmacy 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 provide a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Make sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Mobile AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but a number of employers prefer that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech college should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of work experience. This condition may be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which may be met through 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. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Mobile AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Mobile AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting task without any support. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs. If so, find out 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 appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they select will have to be within driving distance of their Mobile AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician college you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Mobile AL area, make certain that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option 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 as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Mobile Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the best pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting people with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist technician programs incorporate both classroom and laboratory training. As we have covered in this article, it's important to enroll in a college that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This applies both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the appropriate education and commitment you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Mobile Alabama.