Pharmacy Tech Certificate Program
How to Select the Right One Near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician certificate or degree near Muscle Shoals AL, you may be thinking about how to choose the right program to get your education and training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant factors when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation must be evaluated also. You may also decide to research several accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job responsibilities, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Muscle Shoals AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be addressed by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech may carry out are:
- Receive and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is an extremely rewarding career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially 2 options to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also include an internship at an approved Muscle Shoals AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy tech programs opt to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, many Muscle Shoals AL employers 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 finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Classes Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacist tech online college, it's important to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in a local Muscle Shoals pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to get some real world experience. However the balance or non-clinical training may be accessed online in your Muscle Shoals 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 schools are frequently more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online classes might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
Once you have decided whether you wish to earn a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacist technician schools to select from in the Muscle Shoals AL area and throughout the United States, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will most likely initially look for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Muscle Shoals home. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other factors that you should take into consideration so that you may properly compare programs. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? Many pharmacist tech programs and vocational schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to provide a complete quality education. Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Be sure to confirm that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Muscle Shoals AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of employers prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician program needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This requirement can be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates 1 year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the colleges have associations with Muscle Shoals AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Getting that first job in Muscle Shoals AL after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a difficult undertaking without any help. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the school they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Muscle Shoals AL residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry 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 decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps 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 often charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering 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 determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Muscle Shoals AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Muscle Shoals Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting customers with their health is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is furnished by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist tech schools include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to choose a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the appropriate education and determination you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Muscle Shoals Alabama.