Pharmacy Tech College
How to Select the Best One Near Apache Junction Arizona
Having decided to attain your pharmacy tech certificate or degree near Apache Junction AZ, you may be pondering just how to choose the best program to get your education and training. Usually the initial step is to find colleges that offer the degree or diploma that you would like to earn. When checking out pharmacy technician schools, many potential students begin by zeroing in on the ones that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While tuition and location are significant concerns when choosing a college, they are not the only ones. Job placement and intership programs as well as accreditation are just as important if not more so as location and cost. And if you prefer attending classes in your 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 need to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But to begin with, let's discuss what a pharmacy technician does, the diploma and degree options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Duties
Pharmacy technicians have many job responsibilities, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the supervision of a licensed Apache Junction AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can assist customers with understanding instructions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever give medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Some of the common daily functions a pharmacy technician might perform are:
- Greet and help customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medications under pharmacist supervision
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
Due to the nature of their job, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with lower seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or sometimes having to work after hours is a very rewarding career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degree Programs
Individuals wishing to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two options to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and normally include classroom and lab training. A number of programs also include an internship at an accepted Apache Junction AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which normally requires about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can furnish the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate choose to become certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certification Choices
Certification is not required in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy technician schools elect to become certified in order to be more qualified when seeking employment. Also, many Apache Junction AZ employers will only hire a tech that is certified. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requires that the applicant be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of work experience. The PTCB only requires that the applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Tech Online Programs
Prior to selecting a pharmacy technician online program, it's important to understand that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in an area Apache Junction pharmacy or hospital through 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. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed over the internet in your Apache Junction AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, especially for those who keep working while attaining their degree or certificate. And online colleges are often more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for commuting and course materials can be decreased significantly. With both the online and the clinical training, a complete education is offered. But not all online schools are accredited, which is important for obtaining employment and certification (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online school you are looking at is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, for example the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less supervised form of education, then online training might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Tech Schools
Once you have determined whether you wish to earn 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 target your school alternatives. There are a large number of pharmacy technician programs to choose from in the Apache Junction AZ area and throughout the USA, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare colleges and trade schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for schools that are within both your financial resources and commuting distance from your Apache Junction home. If you are able to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech college, then location may not be critical. But there are many other factors that you should take into consideration so that you may adequately compare programs. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? Most pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have acquired a national or regional 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 furnish a complete quality education. Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with distance or online education. Don't forget to check that the certificate or degree program as well as the school you choose are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. Along with helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, certification may require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Apache Junction AZ employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the Program Prep You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of pharmacies prefer that the techs they hire are certified. The pharmacist tech school needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA examination. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This condition may be satisfied by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Provide Internship Programs? As we just covered, the NHA mandates a year of experience for certification, which can be met by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way 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 prior to graduation and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Apache Junction AZ area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Assistance? Getting that first job in Apache Junction AZ after graduation, particularly with no experience, can be a daunting task without some help. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs. If they do, 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 appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduates.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Apache Junction AZ home. Individuals who have decided to attend classes online naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges usually 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 likes to sit way in the back of class or get lost in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are considering what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program as well.
Can the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician program you ultimately choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly important if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Apache Junction AZ area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Apache Junction Pharmacy Tech Program
Finding the right pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to starting your career in a gratifying profession where helping people with their health is your objective. Traditionally, most pharmacy techs were trained "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of employers can no longer operate this way and place a higher importance on hiring formally educated techs. Training is provided by vocational and trade schools, technical colleges as well as community colleges. Most pharmacist technician schools incorporate both laboratory and classroom work. As we have addressed in this article, it's important to enroll in a program that is accredited and will prep you for certification. This holds true both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you follow our additional tips you will be able to compare programs so that you are certain to make the ideal selection. With the right training and commitment you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Apache Junction Arizona.