Pharmacy Tech School
How to Enroll In the Right One Near Northport Alabama
Having decided to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Northport AL, you may be pondering just how to choose the ideal school to receive your education and training. Usually the first step is to locate schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. When looking for pharmacy technician programs, many potential students start by zeroing in on those that are closest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are critical factors when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. You might also choose to take a look at some accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an option to attending classes on campus. We will go over these qualifications and 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 certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Description
Pharmacy techs have multiple job duties, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Northport AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no circumstance should they ever offer medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the common daily services a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Input prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work off-hours is an extremely rewarding career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved Northport AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education in the future. Either program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Options
Certification is not required in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy tech programs elect to become certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Northport AL pharmacies will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 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, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Classes
Before selecting a pharmacy tech online college, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in an area Northport pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to receive some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken over the internet in your Northport AL home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for most students, notably for those who continue to work while attaining their certificate or degree. And online colleges are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and study materials can be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online training might be the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
After you have decided whether you would like to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online program or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist tech programs to select from in the Northport AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Northport home. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are many other factors that you should take into consideration in order to effectively compare schools. The questions below will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? Many pharmacy technician programs and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Colleges earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to furnish a complete quality education. Online colleges may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program together with the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might mandate that the training program is accredited. And a number of Northport AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but numerous employers desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech school needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement may be met by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of experience for certification, which may be satisfied by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to train 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 fulfill the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Northport AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial position in Northport AL upon graduation, especially with no experience, can be a challenging task without some support. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession creating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they select will have to be within commuting distance of their Northport AL residence. Students who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to worry 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 program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually 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 far in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must confirm that the pharmacist tech school you finally pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you choose to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Northport AL area, make certain that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours 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 Northport Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the best pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a rewarding profession where helping customers with their wellness is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is offered by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician schools incorporate both clinical and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to choose a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This is true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the right education and determination you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Northport Alabama.