Pharmacy Tech Certificate Program
How to Pick the Best One Near Anchorage Alaska
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy tech degree or certificate program near Anchorage AK so you can get the proper training to build a career in the rewarding field of medicine. Usually the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the degree or certificate that you are interested in. When checking out pharmacy technician schools, the majority of students start by targeting the ones that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are critical factors when deciding on a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation should be considered also. And if you are interested in studying at home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then searching for an accredited online school will also be included in your vetting process. We will address these qualifications and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Duties
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Anchorage AK pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever provide medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech may perform are:
- Greet and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Enter customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Fill out and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and monitor and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer techs with lower seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is an extremely fulfilling career helping people with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are essentially two options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which normally can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Anchorage AK pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certifications Offered
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, a number of Anchorage AK pharmacies will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requirements are that the applicant be at least 18 years old, 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 applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by each program, which may be met by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Colleges Online
Before deciding on a pharmacy tech online college, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in a local Anchorage pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to obtain some work place experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training can be taken over the internet in your Anchorage AK home or via any available computer. This option is more accommodating for many students, notably for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and course materials can be reduced significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is essential for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So confirm that any online college you are looking at 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 training may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Colleges
After you have determined whether you want to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you prefer to enroll in an online college or go to classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are many pharmacy technician colleges to choose from in the Anchorage AK area and throughout the USA, so you must create a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and vocational schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for schools that are within both your financial budget and driving distance from your Anchorage residence. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be significant. But there are several other factors that you must take into consideration in order to effectively compare programs. The following questions will assist you to gather that information and help you to make your ultimate choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech School Accredited? The majority of pharmacy tech programs and trade schools have obtained 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 verified to furnish a complete quality education. Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals solely with distance or online education. Don't forget to confirm that the certificate or degree program together with the college you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training 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 School Prepare You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in all states, but a number of employers desire that the technicians they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech college should prep its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of work experience. This qualification can be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA requires one year of experience for certification, which may be satisfied through an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech 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 meet the requirement. Check if the colleges have a working relationship with Anchorage AK area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Give Job Placement Assistance? Finding that initial job in Anchorage AK upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a challenging task without some assistance. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indicator that the college has a good reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also means that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the school they choose will have to be within commuting distance of their Anchorage AK home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges frequently charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of person that prefers to sit way in the back of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will likely want a small class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to talk with a few of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist technician program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the pharmacist tech program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule night or weekend classes in the Anchorage AK area, check that they are available. 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, learn what the procedure is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Right Anchorage Pharmacy Tech School
Finding the right pharmacy tech training is a critical first step to beginning your career in a gratifying occupation where assisting customers with their health is your mission. In the past, most pharmacy technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacies can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is provided by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. The majority of pharmacist technician colleges incorporate both laboratory and classroom training. As we have discussed in this article, it's necessary to choose a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This holds true both for classes online and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other suggestions you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the ideal choice. With the proper education and dedication you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Anchorage Alaska.