Pharmacy Tech Certificate Program
How to Find the Right One Near Mesa Arizona
Having made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Mesa AZ, you may be thinking about just how to pick the right school to receive your education and training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? When looking for pharmacy technician schools, many potential students begin by targeting those that are nearest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While tuition and location are critical factors when deciding on a school, they are not the sole ones. Qualifiers including accreditation and reputation need to be evaluated as well. You may also decide to look into some accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an option to attending classes on campus. We will address these qualifiers and some others that you will need to include when reviewing pharmacy technician schools. But first, let's take a look at what a pharmacy technician does, the degree and certification options available, and the advantages of online classes.
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Pharmacy Technician Job Duties
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job duties, but their main responsibility is to dispense prescription medicines. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Mesa AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities because they will be working directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription drugs per the pharmacist's instructions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terminology so that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. However, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice regarding medications or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. Several of the regular daily functions a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Receive and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist supervision
- Add prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Phone customers when their prescriptions are ready for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and manage inventory
Due to the nature of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend the majority of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, particularly for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is a very rewarding career helping people with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Students wishing to enroll in a pharmacy tech college are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are generally two options to training to be a tech whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Numerous programs also require an internship at an accepted Mesa AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does provide a more in depth 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 Technician Certification Choices
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy tech schools elect to get certified in order to be more competitive when seeking employment. Additionally, many Mesa AZ employers will only hire a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 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, has graduated from high school, has finished 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 examination. Recertification is called for every two years by both programs, which can be met by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
Prior to choosing a pharmacist tech online school, it's important to realize that most programs do require a portion of the training be conducted in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in an area Mesa pharmacy or hospital through an internship program. Students in most cases will have the opportunity to work under an experienced pharmacy technician so as to get some work place experience. Fortunately the balance or non-clinical training can be taken over the internet in your Mesa AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for most students, particularly for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials may be reduced substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online colleges are accredited, which is critical for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online school you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the right option for you.
What to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
After you have decided whether you wish to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or go to classes on campus, you can start to narrow your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacy tech colleges to choose from in the Mesa AZ area and throughout the Country, so you should develop a list of qualifying questions so that you can compare community colleges and technical schools. As we addressed in our introduction, you will most likely first start looking for programs that are within both your financial budget and commuting distance from your Mesa residence. If you are able to relocate or are going to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be significant. But there are several other factors that you must take into consideration so that you may adequately compare programs. The following questions will help you in gathering that information and help you to make your final choice.
Is the Pharmacy Tech College Accredited? The majority of pharmacist tech programs and trade schools have obtained a regional or national accreditation. Among 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 certified to furnish a comprehensive quality education. Online colleges may additionally receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals exclusively with distance or online education. Make sure to check that the degree or certificate program together with the school you select are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Along with helping guarantee that you receive a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, certification might require that the program of training is accredited. And a number of Mesa AZ employers will only hire entry level employees that have graduated from an accredited program.
Does the School Ready You for Certification? Certification is not required in all states, but a number of employers prefer that the techs they employ be certified. The pharmacist tech program needs to prepare its students to pass the PTCB or the NHA exam. Students interested in obtaining NHA certification will also need 1 year of professional experience. This condition may be met by taking part in a school sponsored internship program.
Does the College Sponsor Internship Programs? As we previously discussed, the NHA mandates a year of job experience for certification, which can be fulfilled by means of an internship program. Perhaps the best way to obtain hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy tech is to work out in the field. Most pharmacy tech certificate or degree programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to meet the requirement. Check if the colleges have a working relationship with Mesa AZ area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Give Job Placement Help? Getting that initial job in Mesa AZ upon graduation, particularly with no prior experience, can be a daunting endeavor without any support. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indicator that the school has an excellent reputation within the profession generating demand for its graduates. It also indicates that it has a sizable network of pharmacy relationships where it can refer graduates.
Where is the College Located? For many students, the school they select will have to be within travelling distance of their Mesa AZ home. Those who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to keep 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 have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges normally charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Small classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final determination. This will also give you an opportunity to speak with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the pharmacist technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to confirm that the pharmacist technician 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 Mesa AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the procedure is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Mesa Pharmacy Tech School
Getting the right pharmacy tech training is an important first step to starting your career in a rewarding occupation where assisting customers with their health is your objective. Traditionally, many pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". Nowadays, the majority of pharmacies 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. A large number of pharmacist technician schools include both classroom and clinical work. As we have addressed in this article, it's necessary to enroll in a school that is accredited and will prepare you for certification. This holds true both for online classes and for those attended on campus. If you make use of our additional tips you will be able to evaluate colleges so that you are certain to make the best choice. With the right education and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Mesa Arizona.