Pharmacy Tech Certificate Program
How to Choose the Best One Near Fountain Hills Arizona
It’s time to select and enroll in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree program near Fountain Hills AZ so you can get the proper training to begin a career in the rewarding field of healthcare. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many prospective students start by searching for schools that are within commuting distance of their home, and then comparing the tuitions. While tuition and location are important concerns when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Qualifications such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into account as well. And if you are interested in attending classes in your home by means of your computer as opposed to in a classroom, then finding an accredited online school will also be part of your vetting process. We will cover these qualifiers and some others that you will want to include when comparing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's discuss what a pharmacy tech does, the certificate and degree options available, and the advantages of online programs.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Responsibilities
Pharmacy techs have various job functions, but their primary duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Fountain Hills AZ pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be accurate when filling prescription medicines per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice relating to medications or anything else. All such questions should be handled by the pharmacist. Several of the typical daily functions a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription drugs 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 monitor and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the reward for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is a very rewarding career assisting people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Degrees and Diplomas
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally two alternatives to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to earn a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be completed in a year or less. These programs present an introduction to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an accepted Fountain Hills AZ pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which normally takes about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program should provide the necessary level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination should the graduate decide to become certified.
Pharmacy Tech Certification Options
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech programs choose to get certified so as to be more competitive in the job market. Additionally, a number of Fountain Hills AZ employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are two organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has completed a training program, and has one or more years of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has graduated high school and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by both programs, which may be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Colleges
Before deciding on a pharmacy tech online school, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require a portion of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is usually satisfied in an area Fountain Hills pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy tech so as to acquire some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken online in your Fountain Hills AZ home or via any available computer. This alternative is more accommodating for many students, notably for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online schools are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenditures for commuting and study materials may be reduced significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for obtaining certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that any online program you are considering is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online classes might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
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 options. There are many pharmacist tech schools to choose from in the Fountain Hills AZ area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast colleges and technical schools. As we covered in our introduction, you will probably initially look for programs that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Fountain Hills residence. If you are able to move or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are many other variables that you need to take into consideration in order to properly compare schools. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your ultimate selection.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech colleges and vocational schools have earned a national or regional 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 certified to provide a comprehensive quality education. Online schools may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online learning. Don't forget to check that the degree or certificate program as well as the college you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education sanctioned accrediting agency. In addition to helping make sure that you get a quality education, it might assist in getting financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Fountain Hills AZ employers will only hire entry level employees that have earned a degree from an accredited school.
Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not mandated in every state, but a number of employers prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacy tech college needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will additionally need 1 year of job experience. This qualification can be met by participating in a college sponsored internship program.
Does the College Offer Internship Programs? As we previously covered, the NHA mandates one year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled with an internship program. Perhaps the best way to get practical clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require practical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Find out if the programs have a working relationship with Fountain Hills AZ area pharmacies, clinics, or hospitals for internship programs.
Does the School Provide Job Placement Help? Getting that first job in Fountain Hills AZ upon graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a difficult task without some support. Ask if the schools you are researching 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 school has a good reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a large network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they decide on will have to be within driving distance of their Fountain Hills AZ home. Those who have chosen to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. Something to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a school that is out of state or even 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 normally charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with several of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the pharmacy tech program also.
Can the College Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you must verify that the pharmacy tech school you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you decide to continue working while attending school. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Fountain Hills AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Right Fountain Hills Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the ideal pharmacy tech training is a crucial first step to starting your career in a rewarding occupation where helping customers with their wellness is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were trained "on the job". Nowadays, most pharmacists can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally educated technicians. Training is furnished by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. Many pharmacy technician schools incorporate both laboratory and classroom work. As we have covered in this article, it's important to select a school that is accredited and will prepare 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 evaluate schools so that you are sure to make the right choice. With the proper training and commitment you can reach your goal to become a pharmacy tech in Fountain Hills Arizona.