Pharmacy Tech College
How to Choose the Right One Near Tuscaloosa Alabama
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy tech degree or certificate program near Tuscaloosa AL so you can get the proper training to build a career in the rewarding field of medicine. Usually the first step is to find schools that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. A number of future students begin by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical factors when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Job placement and intership programs as well as accreditation are equally important if not more so as cost and location. And if you prefer attending classes at home by means of your computer instead of in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and others that you will want to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Description
Pharmacy technicians have various job duties, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must work under the supervision of a licensed Tuscaloosa AL pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service skills because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have a comprehensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may help customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever give medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and monitor and control inventory
As a consequence of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work after hours is a very satisfying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 options to training to be a technician regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Tuscaloosa AL pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally involves about 2 years of studies. Although not required 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 proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Options
It is not required to earn certification in every state, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician colleges elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, a number of 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 requires that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is required every 2 years by each program, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Classes Online
Before deciding on a pharmacy tech online training program, it's necessary to realize that the majority of schools do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in a local Tuscaloosa pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy technician in order to acquire some real world experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training may be taken over the internet in your Tuscaloosa AL home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, especially for those who continue to work while attaining their degree or certificate. And online programs are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials can be decreased substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online classes may be the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Pharmacy Technician Programs
After you have determined whether you want to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or attend classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacy technician schools to pick from in the Tuscaloosa AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will undoubtedly initially look for colleges that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Tuscaloosa home. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be important. But there are many other factors that you need to take into consideration in order to effectively compare programs. The questions below will assist you in collecting that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Technician Program Accredited? Many pharmacist tech programs and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Programs earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and verified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may additionally obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Make sure to verify that the certificate or degree program in addition to the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Tuscaloosa AL pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of pharmacies desire that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy technician program should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This condition can be fulfilled by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy technician degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Tuscaloosa AL area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Finding that first position in Tuscaloosa AL upon graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting undertaking without some support. Ask if the colleges you are researching 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 graduates.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Tuscaloosa AL residence. Those who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally 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 likes to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacist tech college you ultimately choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Tuscaloosa AL area, verify that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Tuscaloosa Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the ideal pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to starting your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting customers with their wellness is your mission. In the past, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is offered by trade schools, vocational and technical colleges, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician programs include both laboratory and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's important to choose a college that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true 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 compare colleges so that you are certain to make the right selection. With the appropriate training and determination you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Tuscaloosa Alabama.