Pharmacy Tech School
How to Pick the Right One Near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Having made the decision to attain your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Vestavia Hills AL, you might be thinking about how to choose the ideal program to receive your education and training. Of course the initial step is to locate schools that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are critical concerns when choosing a school, they are not the only ones. Job placement and intership programs in addition to accreditation are equally important if not more so as location and cost. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home in front of your computer instead of in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online college will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and some others that you will need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy techs have various job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Vestavia Hills AL pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can help 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 pertaining to medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the typical daily functions a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Receive and assist customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Enter customer and prescription 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 control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer technicians with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work after hours is a very rewarding career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Certificates
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech program are qualified as long as 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 earn a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. A number of programs also require an internship at an accepted Vestavia Hills AL pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Choices
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy technician schools opt to become certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, a number of Vestavia Hills AL pharmacies will only hire a tech that is certified. There are two organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Classes Online
Before choosing a pharmacist tech online college, it's important to realize that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in a local Vestavia Hills pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy technician in order to get some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Vestavia Hills AL home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are sometimes less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that each online program you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online training may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have determined whether you would like to attain a certificate or degree, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can begin to narrow your school options. There are a large number of pharmacist technician schools to choose from in the Vestavia Hills AL area and throughout the USA, so you need to create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we discussed in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for schools that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Vestavia Hills home. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are many other issues that you must consider in order to adequately compare colleges. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Technician College Accredited? Many pharmacist technician programs and trade schools have acquired 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 evaluated and verified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with online or distance education. Be sure to check that the degree or certificate program in addition to the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may mandate that the training program is accredited. And many Vestavia Hills AL employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the College Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but many employers prefer that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist technician college should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of job experience. This qualification may be satisfied by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates one year of experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. One of the best ways to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train 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. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Vestavia Hills AL area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Help? Getting that first job in Vestavia Hills AL upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a difficult endeavor without any assistance. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has a good reputation within the profession creating demand for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a sizable network of employer relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they decide on will have to be within commuting distance of their Vestavia Hills AL home. Students who have decided to attend online classes naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a small class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are researching what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to sit in on one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you a chance to talk with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacist technician college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Vestavia Hills AL area, make sure that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss as a result of illness, work or family emergencies.
Learn More about Becoming a Pharmacy Tech in Vestavia Hills
Choose the Right Vestavia Hills Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to starting your career in a fulfilling occupation where helping customers with their health is your purpose. In the past, many pharmacy technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most employers can no longer afford to do this and much prefer to hire formally educated techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy technician schools include both classroom and laboratory training. As we have addressed in this article, it's essential to select a school that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for classes online 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 choice. With the appropriate education and dedication you can accomplish your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Vestavia Hills Alabama.
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