Pharmacy Tech College
How to Pick the Right One Near Opelika Alabama
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Opelika AL in order to receive the proper training to build a career in the rewarding profession of medicine. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? When looking for pharmacy technician schools, the majority of students start by zeroing in on the ones that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are significant concerns when picking a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation should be evaluated as well. You may also decide to take a look at a few accredited pharmacy tech online programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will cover these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy techs have multiple job responsibilities, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Opelika AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever give medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily duties a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Input prescription and customer information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes being required to work off-hours is a very gratifying career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 alternatives to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Opelika AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about two years of studies. Although not required 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 provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Options
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs choose to get certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, many Opelika AL pharmacies will only employ a tech that is certified. 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 only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Classes Online
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy tech online college, it's important to understand that most schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is commonly fulfilled in an area Opelika pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy technician in order to get some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed online in your Opelika AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, particularly for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online schools are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and course 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 important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each 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 learn with a less formal type of education, then online classes might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Schools
After you have decided whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy tech schools to select from in the Opelika 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 discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Opelika residence. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are many other issues that you should consider so that you may effectively compare programs. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician colleges and vocational schools have earned a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to provide a complete quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Make sure to verify that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it might help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And many Opelika AL pharmacies 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 every state, but numerous pharmacies prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech school should prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This condition may be fulfilled by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates a year of professional experience for certification, which can be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Opelika AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that initial job in Opelika AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a challenging endeavor without any support. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has an excellent reputation within the field creating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of employer relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Opelika AL home. Those who have chosen 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 concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that don't reside within their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of student that likes to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist technician program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Opelika AL area, check that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Opelika Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the ideal pharmacy tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a gratifying profession where helping customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacy techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacy tech colleges 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 ready you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the right training and determination you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Opelika Alabama.