Pharmacy Tech Certificate Program
How to Select the Right One Near Anchorage Alaska
Now it’s time to select and enroll in a pharmacy tech degree or certificate program near Anchorage AK so you can receive the right training to begin a career in the rewarding field of medicine. Of course the first step is to find schools that offer the certificate or degree that you are interested in. Many prospective students begin by looking for schools that are within driving distance of their residence, and then comparing the cost. While tuition and location are critical factors when choosing a school, they are not the sole ones. Job placement and intership programs in addition to accreditation are equally important if not more so as location and cost. You might also want to research several accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will cover these qualifiers and others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the benefits of online courses.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Description
Pharmacy technicians have various job responsibilities, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the management of a licensed Anchorage AK pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when filling prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever give medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Some of the common daily duties a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Add customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or at times being required to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially 2 alternatives to training to be a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Anchorage AK pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program should provide the necessary amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician schools elect to become certified in order to be more qualified in the job market. Additionally, many Anchorage AK pharmacies will only hire a tech that is certified. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, has graduated from high school, has finished 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 examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Colleges
Before deciding on a pharmacist technician online training program, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is typically fulfilled in an area Anchorage pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students in most cases will have the benefit of working under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be accessed over the internet in your Anchorage AK home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for most students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes less expensive than traditional options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials can be reduced substantially. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is critical for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online college you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to study with a less structured form of education, then online training might be the best option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have decided whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are many pharmacist technician programs to pick from in the Anchorage AK area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Anchorage home. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be important. But there are many other variables that you should take into consideration in order to adequately compare colleges. The following questions will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? Most pharmacy tech programs and vocational schools have obtained a national or regional accreditation. One of the most respected accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and verified to offer a complete quality education. Online schools may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the college you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Anchorage AK employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but many pharmacies prefer that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacy technician college should prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of job experience. This requirement can be met by entering a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA requires 1 year of professional experience for certification, which may be met with an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is a great way to satisfy the requirement. Ask if the programs have a working relationship with Anchorage AK area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Offer Job Placement Assistance? Securing that first job in Anchorage AK upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a challenging endeavor without some support. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If they do, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession generating appeal for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a substantial network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Anchorage AK home. Those who have opted to attend online classes obviously will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of importance. One thing to consider 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 normally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges generally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Big are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit way in the back of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at 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 ultimate decision. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician college you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you opt to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Anchorage AK area, check 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, ask what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Anchorage Pharmacy Tech Program
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to beginning your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their health is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacists can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally trained techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacy tech schools include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have covered 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 and for those attended on campus. If you follow our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the proper training and determination you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Anchorage Alaska.