Pharmacy Tech College
How to Choose the Best One Near Fairbanks Alaska
It’s time to choose and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Fairbanks AK so you can get the right training to build a career in the rewarding field of medicine. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the cost. While cost and location are significant concerns when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as reputation and accreditation need to be considered as well. You might also choose to research some accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an option to attending classes on campus. We will cover 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 tech does, the diploma and degree options available, and the benefits of online classes.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy technicians have many job functions, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Fairbanks AK pharmacist. They must also have great customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they need to have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology in order that they can assist customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the typical daily duties a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Fill prescription medicines under pharmacist guidance
- Enter customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working evenings and weekends is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work after hours is an extremely fulfilling career assisting customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are basically two options to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the various elements of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include lab and classroom training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Fairbanks AK pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually takes about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can furnish the proper amount of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Choices
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but many graduates of pharmacy tech schools elect to get certified so as to be more competitive when seeking employment. Also, many Fairbanks AK employers will only hire a tech that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that provide certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requires that the applicant be at least 18 years old, has graduated from high school, has completed a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be satisfied by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Programs Online
Before selecting a pharmacy tech online school, it's necessary to realize that most schools do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical environment. This is typically fulfilled in a local Fairbanks pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to obtain some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Fairbanks AK home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting 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 check that any online school you are reviewing is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are dedicated enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
Once you have decided whether you wish to attain a certificate or degree, and if you prefer to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can begin to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy tech colleges to select from in the Fairbanks AK area and throughout the United States, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably first start looking for programs that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Fairbanks residence. If you are willing to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech school, then location may not be critical. But there are several other factors that you should consider in order to effectively compare programs. The questions below will assist you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacist technician programs and vocational schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been screened and certified to offer a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance learning. Don't forget to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a superior education, it might assist in getting financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may mandate that the program of training is accredited. And many Fairbanks AK pharmacies will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the Program Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in every state, but many employers desire that the technicians they employ are certified. The pharmacist tech school should ready its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of job experience. This condition may be fulfilled by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Sponsor Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA requires 1 year of experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. One of the best ways to acquire practical clinical experience as a pharmacy tech 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 a great way to meet the requirement. Ask if the colleges have associations with Fairbanks AK area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Fairbanks AK after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting endeavor without some support. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs. If they do, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also signifies that it has a large network of employer contacts where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the college they choose will need to be within driving distance of their Fairbanks AK home. Students who have decided 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 concern. Something to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
How Large are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom 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 schools you are considering what the average teacher to student 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 a chance to talk with some of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacist tech program as well.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacy technician school you finally pick can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fairbanks AK area, make sure that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, check if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the best pharmacy technician training is a crucial first step to launching your career in a gratifying occupation where helping people with their health is your mission. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, the majority of employers can no longer afford to do this and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy tech schools incorporate both classroom and clinical work. As we have covered in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This applies both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional suggestions you will be able to evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the best choice. With the proper training and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Fairbanks Alaska.