Pharmacy Tech Course
How to Choose the Best One Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Now it’s time to select and enroll in a pharmacy tech degree or certificate program near Tuscaloosa AL in order to receive the right training to begin a career in the rewarding profession of medicine. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? When checking out pharmacy technician schools, the majority of students begin by targeting those that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While tuition and location are significant factors when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated as well. You might also want to look into some accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will go over these qualifications and others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online courses.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Duties
Pharmacy technicians have numerous job functions, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Tuscaloosa AL pharmacist. They must also have good customer service abilities because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling 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 instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice relating to prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Fill prescription drugs under pharmacist direction
- Enter 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 audit and control inventory
Due to the nature 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 low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work off-hours is a very gratifying career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees
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 two options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Tuscaloosa AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician schools choose to get certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Tuscaloosa 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 only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Colleges
Prior to selecting a pharmacist technician online college, it's important to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local Tuscaloosa pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy technician so as to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Tuscaloosa AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, notably for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online programs are sometimes more affordable 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 colleges are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online program you are considering 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 supervised form of education, then online training might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
Once you have determined whether you would like to earn a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school options. There are numerous pharmacist tech colleges to pick from in the Tuscaloosa AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community 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 Tuscaloosa residence. If you are willing 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 issues that you need to take into consideration so that you may effectively compare programs. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician colleges and vocational schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to furnish a complete superior education. Online programs may additionally earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Be sure to verify that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you get a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the program of training is accredited. And many Tuscaloosa AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the College Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but numerous pharmacies desire that the techs they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech program needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of professional experience. This requirement can be met by taking part in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires one year of professional experience for certification, which can be fulfilled through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy technician 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 Tuscaloosa AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Getting that initial position in Tuscaloosa AL upon graduation, especially with no prior experience, can be a difficult task without some support. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of employer relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the Program Located? For a number of students, the college they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Tuscaloosa AL residence. Individuals who have opted to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the sort of person that likes to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly want a smaller class size. Small classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must verify that the pharmacy technician college you finally select can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially important if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tuscaloosa 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 courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Tuscaloosa Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping people with their health is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is provided by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech colleges include both classroom and laboratory training. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to choose a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This is true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to compare colleges so that you are sure to make the best selection. With the appropriate education and dedication you can achieve your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Tuscaloosa Alabama.