Pharmacy Tech School
How to Pick the Right One Near Montgomery Alabama
Now it’s time to select and enroll in a pharmacy tech certificate or degree program near Montgomery AL so you can receive the right training to begin a career in the rewarding field of medicine. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? When checking out pharmacy technician programs, the majority of students begin by targeting the ones that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While tuition and location are important concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including reputation and accreditation should be considered as well. You might also choose to look into several accredited pharmacy tech online programs as an option to attending classes on campus. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will want 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 courses.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy technicians have various job functions, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Montgomery 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 filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. All such questions would be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the common daily tasks a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Enter customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is a very satisfying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech 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 generally 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 typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Montgomery AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Choices
Certification is not required in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools opt to get certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Montgomery AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requires that the applicant be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Colleges Online
Before deciding on a pharmacy tech online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in an area Montgomery pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to acquire some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online in your Montgomery AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for commuting and course materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that each online program you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, such as 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 choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
Once you have decided whether you want to earn a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online program or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist tech programs to pick from in the Montgomery AL area and throughout the Country, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational 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 Montgomery 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 a number of other issues that you must consider in order to adequately compare schools. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Most pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a complete superior education. Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Be sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program together with the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you receive a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Montgomery AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of pharmacies desire that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician program should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This condition can be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates a year of experience for certification, which may be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the schools have associations with Montgomery AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Getting that initial position in Montgomery AL after graduation, especially with no experience, can be a difficult task without some assistance. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they pick will need to be within driving distance of their Montgomery AL home. Students who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might 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 live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist tech program you ultimately select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Montgomery AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Montgomery Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the right pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where helping people with their health is your objective. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". These days, most employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Many pharmacist tech schools incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to select a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the right choice. With the right education and commitment you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Montgomery Alabama.