Pharmacy Tech School
How to Find the Right One Near Northport Alabama
It’s time to select and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Northport AL in order to receive the proper training to begin a career in the rewarding field of medicine. Usually the initial step is to find colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you are interested in. A number of potential students begin by looking for colleges that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are critical concerns when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Job placement and intership programs as well as accreditation are just as important if not more so as cost and location. And if you prefer attending classes at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will go over these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Description
Pharmacy techs have numerous job responsibilities, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Northport AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. All such questions would be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily tasks a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Northport AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more in depth education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Options
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to get certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, a number of Northport AL pharmacies will only employ a tech 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 candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which may be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Programs Online
Before deciding on a pharmacy technician online school, it's necessary to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in a local Northport pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech in order to acquire some real world experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Northport AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, especially for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are often less expensive than traditional 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 provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that each online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training may be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Programs
After you have decided whether you would like to earn a degree or a certificate, 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 a large number of pharmacist tech schools to select from in the Northport AL area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Northport home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are many other factors that you should consider so that you may effectively compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a complete quality education. Online schools may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it may help in getting financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And many Northport AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech school needs to prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This requirement may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Provide Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which may be satisfied through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the colleges have a working relationship with Northport AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Provide Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial job in Northport AL after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a challenging endeavor without any help. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If so, find out 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 means that it has a sizable network of pharmacy contacts where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they decide on will need to be within travelling distance of their Northport AL residence. Students who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher 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 an opportunity to speak with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy technician college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Northport AL area, confirm that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Northport Pharmacy Tech Program
Receiving the right pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling profession where helping customers with their health is your mission. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician schools include both clinical and classroom work. As we have discussed in this article, it's essential to enroll in a college that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the right education and commitment you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Northport Alabama.