Pharmacy Tech Certificate Program
How to Select the Best One Near Prattville Alabama
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy technician degree or certificate program near Prattville AL so you can receive the proper training to begin a career in the rewarding field of healthcare. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many future students begin by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While cost and location are important concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the only ones. Internship and job placement programs as well as accreditation are just as important if not more so as cost and location. And if you are interested in studying at home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online programs.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy techs have various job functions, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Prattville AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice pertaining to medications or anything else. Any such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily services a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and manage 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 payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is a very rewarding career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 alternatives to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be completed in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also include an internship at an approved Prattville AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
Certification is not required in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech colleges choose to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, many Prattville AL pharmacies will only hire a tech 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 candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has completed 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 examination. Recertification is called for every 2 years by each program, which can be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Colleges Online
Before selecting a pharmacist tech online program, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is typically satisfied in a local Prattville pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under an experienced pharmacy tech so as to get some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Prattville AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, particularly for those who keep working while attaining their certificate or degree. And online schools are often more affordable than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for driving and course materials may be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online schools are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
Once you have determined whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school options. There are numerous pharmacy technician schools to pick from in the Prattville AL area and throughout the United States, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and driving distance from your Prattville residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be critical. But there are a number of other variables that you must consider in order to properly compare colleges. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? Most pharmacy tech colleges and trade schools have acquired a national or regional accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to provide a complete superior education. Online colleges may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance learning. Don't forget to check that the certificate or degree 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 obtain a quality education, it might help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Prattville AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the technicians they hire be certified. The pharmacy technician college should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need one year of professional experience. This qualification can be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which may be met through an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require clinical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to meet the requirement. Find out if the colleges have associations with Prattville AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Prattville AL after graduation, particularly with no professional experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any assistance. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has an excellent reputation within the field creating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will need to be within travelling distance of their Prattville AL residence. Individuals who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally 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.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with some of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician school you finally select can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Prattville AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Prattville Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting customers with their health is your mission. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech schools include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to select a program that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate training and dedication you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Prattville Alabama.