Pharmacy Tech College
How to Pick the Best One Near Trussville Alabama
Now that you have decided to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Trussville AL, you may be thinking about just how to pick the right school to get your education and training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of potential students start by searching for schools that are within driving distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant concerns when choosing a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications including accreditation and reputation must be taken into account also. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home in front of your computer rather than in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifications and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Duties
Pharmacy techs have multiple job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Trussville AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily services a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist guidance
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is a very fulfilling career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically 2 options to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Trussville AL pharmacy or other 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 provide a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should furnish the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to become certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Trussville AL pharmacies will only employ a technician that is certified. There are 2 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 professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is called for every 2 years by both programs, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Colleges
Before selecting a pharmacy technician online school, it's necessary to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Trussville pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working with a seasoned pharmacy technician so as to acquire some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your Trussville AL home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who continue to work while earning their certificate or degree. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and study materials may be reduced 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 employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Programs
After you have decided whether you want to obtain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist technician programs to pick from in the Trussville AL area and throughout the USA, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Trussville residence. If you are willing to move or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are many other issues that you must consider in order to effectively compare colleges. The questions below will help you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech colleges and trade schools have earned a national or regional accreditation. One of 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 certified to provide a complete quality education. Online programs may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online learning. Don't forget to confirm that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you get a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Trussville AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers prefer that the techs they hire be certified. The pharmacy tech college needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of professional experience. This qualification may be met by participating in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. One of the best ways to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician certificate or degree programs also require practical training prior to graduation and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the programs have associations with Trussville AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Finding that initial position in Trussville AL upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some support. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. If so, ask 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 large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Trussville AL residence. Those who have opted 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 importance. Something to consider is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly 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 are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the pharmacy technician college you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Trussville AL area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, verify if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Trussville Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the ideal pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a rewarding profession where helping customers with their health is your mission. In the past, most pharmacist techs were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained technicians. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacist technician programs include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to choose a school that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional suggestions you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the best selection. With the right education and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Trussville Alabama.