Pharmacy Tech College
How to Choose the Best One Near Oro Valley Arizona
Now that you have made the decision to earn your pharmacy technician degree or certificate near Oro Valley AZ, you might be pondering how to choose the ideal school to receive your education and training. Naturally the initial step is to locate colleges that offer the diploma or degree that you would like to earn. When looking for pharmacy technician schools, the majority of students begin by zeroing in on those that are closest to their homes with the cheapest tuition. While tuition and location are significant concerns when selecting a college, they are not the sole ones. Internship and job placement programs in addition to accreditation are equally important if not more so as location and cost. You might also want to take a look at several accredited online pharmacy tech programs as an alternative to attending classes on campus. We will cover 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 benefits of online classes.
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Pharmacy Tech Job Description
Pharmacy technicians have multiple job functions, but their main duty is to dispense prescription medications. Because they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must work under the management of a licensed Oro Valley AZ pharmacist. They must also have excellent customer service abilities since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms so that they may assist customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. All such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the common daily functions a pharmacy tech might carry out are:
- Welcome and assist customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist direction
- Input customer and prescription information into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their prescriptions are prepared for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy techs will spend most of their working day standing. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is a very gratifying career helping customers with their health and wellness.
Pharmacy Technician Degrees and Diplomas
Students desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or a GED. There are basically two options to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which usually can be finished in a year or less. These programs present an overview to the various aspects of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and usually include lab and classroom training. Many programs also require an internship at an accepted Oro Valley AZ pharmacy or similar facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which typically involves about 2 years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more extensive education and can lead to more advanced positions or education down the road. Each program can provide the necessary level 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 programs opt to become certified in order to be more competitive in the job market. Also, many Oro Valley AZ employers will only hire a tech 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 applicant 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 applicant has a high school diploma and passes their examination. Recertification is mandated every two years by both programs, which can be satisfied by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Programs
Prior to deciding on a pharmacy technician online training program, it's necessary to understand that most programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical setting. This is usually fulfilled in a local Oro Valley pharmacy or hospital by means of an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech in order to receive some work place experience. However the balance or non-clinical training can be accessed online in your Oro Valley AZ home or via any available computer. This option is more convenient for many students, especially for those who keep working while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online colleges are frequently more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and study materials can be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a comprehensive education is provided. 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 reviewing is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to study with a less formal type of education, then online instruction might be the right solution for you.
Questions to Ask Pharmacy Technician Colleges
Once you have determined whether you would like to obtain a degree or a certificate, and if you want to enroll in an online school or attend classes on campus, you can start to target your school alternatives. There are numerous pharmacist technician colleges to pick from in the Oro Valley AZ area and throughout the Country, so you should create a list of qualifying questions so that you can contrast community colleges and vocational 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 Oro Valley home. If you are willing to relocate or are have decided to enroll in an online pharmacy tech program, then location may not be important. But there are a number of other variables that you should consider so that you may effectively compare colleges. The following questions will help you to gather that information and help you to make your final decision.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Program Accredited? The majority of pharmacy technician programs and trade schools have acquired a regional or national accreditation. Among the most respected accrediting agencies is the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Schools earning accreditation from the ASHP have been evaluated and certified to offer a comprehensive superior education. Online programs may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which deals only with online or distance education. Be sure to check that the certificate or degree program together with the school you pick are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. In addition to helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, certification might require that the training program is accredited. And a number of Oro Valley AZ 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 a number of employers desire that the technicians they employ be certified. The pharmacist tech program needs to prepare its students to pass the NHA or the PTCB examination. Students planning on obtaining NHA certification will also need one year of job experience. This requirement may be fulfilled by entering a school sponsored internship program.
Does the School Offer Internship Programs? As we just discussed, the NHA mandates a year of professional experience for certification, which can be satisfied with an internship program. One of the best ways to get hands on clinical experience as a pharmacy technician is to train out in the field. Most pharmacy tech degree or certificate programs also require clinical training in order to graduate and an internship is an excellent way to fulfill the requirement. Ask if the schools have associations with Oro Valley AZ area pharmacies, hospitals, or clinics for internship programs.
Does the College Offer Job Placement Help? Getting that first position in Oro Valley AZ after graduation, especially with no professional experience, can be a daunting undertaking without some assistance. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high job placement rate is an indication that the school has an excellent reputation within the field generating appeal for its graduates. It also means that it has a substantial network of pharmacy contacts where it can place graduating students.
Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the college they choose will need to be within commuting distance of their Oro Valley AZ home. Individuals who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to trouble themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. Something to keep in mind is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges normally 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.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the type of person that likes to sit way in the rear of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a smaller class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the pharmacy technician program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the pharmacy tech college you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly essential if you opt to continue working while you attend classes. If you need to schedule night or weekend classes in the Oro Valley AZ area, verify that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many credit hours or courses you would need to enroll in. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Choose the Best Oro Valley Pharmacy Tech School
Receiving the ideal pharmacy technician training is a critical first step to launching your career in a gratifying profession where assisting customers with their health is your purpose. Traditionally, most pharmacist technicians were taught "on the job". These days, most pharmacies can no longer operate this way and much prefer to hire formally trained techs. Training is offered by technical colleges, vocational and trade schools, as well as community colleges. A large number of pharmacy technician programs include both laboratory and classroom training. As we have covered in this article, it's important to select a school that is accredited and will ready you for certification. This applies both for classes online as well as for those attended on campus. If you make use of our other tips you will be able to compare schools so that you are sure to make the ideal selection. With the appropriate training and commitment you can realize your goal to become a pharmacy technician in Oro Valley Arizona.