Pharmacy Tech School
How to Enroll In the Right One Near Saraland Alabama
Now it’s time to select and enroll in a pharmacy technician degree or certificate program near Saraland AL in order to receive the proper training to build a career in the rewarding profession of medicine. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? When checking out pharmacy technician programs, many potential students start by zeroing in on the ones that are nearest to their homes with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are important factors when picking a school, they are not the sole ones. Internship and job placement programs as well as accreditation are just as important if not more so as location and cost. You might also choose to look into several accredited pharmacy tech online programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will cover these qualifications and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Description
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job duties, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Saraland AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Receive and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs under pharmacist supervision
- Input prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times having to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Diplomas
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are essentially two options to training to be a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an approved Saraland AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does furnish a more in depth education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can furnish the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Saraland AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer 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 at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Colleges
Before deciding on a pharmacist tech online program, it's important to realize that most schools do require a portion of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in an area Saraland pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Saraland AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more practical for many students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials may be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for securing employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So check that each online program you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online training may be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Tech Programs
After you have determined whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to target your school options. There are numerous pharmacist tech programs to pick from in the Saraland AL area and throughout the United States, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Saraland home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be significant. But there are a number of other factors that you need to take into consideration in order to adequately compare schools. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? Most pharmacy tech colleges and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of the most highly regarded 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 comprehensive superior education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online learning. Make sure to confirm that the certificate or degree program in addition to the college you pick 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 may assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And many Saraland 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 mandated in all states, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacy technician school should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This condition may be satisfied by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires a year of experience for certification, which may be met by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the colleges have associations with Saraland AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first job in Saraland AL after graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting undertaking without some help. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the college has a good reputation within the field generating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they pick will have to be within travelling distance of their Saraland AL residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually 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.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that prefers to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching 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 final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacist technician college you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Saraland AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Saraland Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to launching your career in a fulfilling occupation where assisting people with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, many pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is furnished by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist tech programs include both classroom and laboratory work. As we have covered in this article, it's essential to choose a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for online classes as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are sure to make the right selection. With the appropriate education and dedication you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Saraland Alabama.