9 Tips for Deciding Whether an Online Pharmacy Technician Program is Right For You
Prospective students choosing to go down the path of a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) are faced with a rewarding career in the health sciences field that is only expected to grow because pharmacists are increasingly performing more and more patient care activities including giving flu shots. No longer do pharmacy technicians have the limited function of serving only as clerks or cashiers. Pharmacy technicians now have to perform duties such as collecting patient information, verifying work of other techs (previously done by pharmacists) and preparing more types of medications.
Despite there being many vocational schools and community colleges offering accredited programs in pharmacy technology, not every individual can attend a campus-based program for various work and life reasons. In this instance, interested students must ask themselves if attending an online pharmacy technician program is a quality alternative?
Is an Online Pharmacy Tech Program Right For you?
There are many factors for you to consider if you’re ready to make this exciting career move. In this article we discuss the most important.
Let's get started.
Explore Accredited Programs
First consideration is that you may have to attend an online pharmacy technician program that is (American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists ) ASHP- accredited.
Many employers prefer to hire technicians from accredited training programs and ASHP-accredited pharmacy technician training is now required by several state boards of pharmacy.
However not all states require pharmacy technicians to complete an ASHP-accredited educational program.
Since the requirements to work as a pharmacy technician differ from state to state, we encourage you to get detailed requirements for your specific state, by simply contacting your State’s Board of Pharmacy. Links to state boards of pharmacy are found at National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).
Second consideration, is that some state boards of pharmacy require national certification (passing of an examination) in order to become registered or licensed to work.
Attending a top online pharmacy technician school will also help prepare you to sit EITHER the PTCE or ExCPT exam. Since most employers prefer, and many require, their pharmacy technicians be PTCB CPhTs attending an online accredited program is thus an excellent alternative. Learn more about the two types of pharmacy technician certification here.
No worries for Waiting Times or Limited Spaces
Many of today’s aspiring pharmacy technicians begin their career with an accredited online associate degree.
To ensure early enrollment and avoid disappointment, always check to see that there are no limited spaces, waiting times or any pre-requisites that need to be completed prior to starting your course.
Students could begin their studies sooner if attending one of the accredited online pharmacy tech programs. An excellent starting point is to review the complete list of accredited pharmacy technician schools.
Be Hardware and Software Ready
Attending an online pharmacy technician program requires having access to the right equipment and adequate technology and be comfortable using it. Of course, every online distance education institution will have unique requirements and they all require dependable high-speed internet access.
Today's e-learning technology allows students to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable devices with Wi-Fi capabilities enabling you to connect with peers and other faculty staff in real-time.
So ensure you have the right computer hardware (Desktop, Laptop, Internet Access etc.) and software requirements (Microsoft Office etc.) before deciding whether online learning is a good alternative.
The set up for your virtual classwork will be very similar to those that are campus-based apart from the physical interaction. Students will be able to access course lectures, participate in virtual discussions with fellow students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their lecturers all from the comfort of their home computer.
Be Comfortable with the Coursework
Earning a diploma, certificate or associate degree requires completing coursework with a heavy emphasis in medical terminology and computer work.
Typically the coursework for an online associate degree program will cover subjects like medical terminology, pharmaceutical math and measurements, anatomy and physiology, pathology and pharmacology,in addition to core STEM subjects like biology, chemistry and algebra.
Pharmacy Technology is only a good choice for you if these are the kinds of topics that you are comfortable with and are of interest to you. Learn more about the course curriculum here.
Be Ready to Commute to your Externship
ASHP-accredited programs involve a combination of coursework instruction and work experience (externship) in an actual pharmacy.
Before enrolment contact the school and review the locations for their internship/externship which is generally carried out in a community pharmacy to ensure you are able to complete this part of the coursework in order to meet the requirements for graduateship. If the commute is a problem, you may have the choice to arrange your own externship where you can have reasonable access to travel to.
To graduate and sit the professional certification exams, both coursework and practical work experience may be required.In addition some state boards of pharmacy require formal training in order to become registered or licensed to work.
Again for detailed requirements for your specific state, contact the state board of pharmacy. Links to state boards of pharmacy are found at National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).
But in general online students are usually able to coordinate the externship or internship part of the course at hospitals, pharmacies or other sites that are more conveniently located to their current residence.
Ideal for Single Parents or for those in Employment
The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of the online pharmacy technician associate degree program is the best choice for prospective students who need to study from home. These include individuals who care for families at home or those already working part-time or that have other commitments that may interfere with campus-based learning. So if the commute to the externship isn’t an issue, then online programs make an excellent alternative.
Acquire Time Management Skills
Online students should be not only self-motivated but also be disciplined about allocating time to studying and seeing it through. Distance education is not for everyone. In order to succeed you need to learn how to manage your time efficiently. Those that like the face to face interaction with their peers or professors may not enjoy online pharmacy technician training since all communication is conducted online.
Get Familiar with a PT typical working day
If you are contemplating a career in Pharmacy Technology, it’s quite important to fully understand how the pharmacy tech spends a typical working day. The job entails working under the direction of a pharmacist, filling prescriptions and preparing medications. The latter entails retrieving drugs in the correct dosage, measuring the correct amount and producing a prescription label. A more detailed explanation of the typical workday for a pharmacy technician can be found here.
Be Realistic about the Demands of this Career
Though a rewarding career, Pharmacy Technicians are required to meet the physical and mental job demands on a day-to-day basis. On an average day a retail pharmacy technician will attend to 40+ prescriptions. You want to like dealing with the public and assisting them.
Many pharmacy technicians spend a majority of the day on their feet. Pharmacy technicians may be asked to work a variety of shifts, including weekends and holidays.
Hospital pharmacies technicians are compensated well as are Oncology Pharmacy Technicians and there is no dealing or involvement with the general public apart from insurance companies, pharmacists and other medical personnel.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), around two-thirds of pharmacy technicians work in hospitals, pharmacies or drugstores.
Employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.
An Online Pharmacy Technician Programs Places Students on their Chosen Career Path
The online pharmacy technician associate program make it possible for anyone interested in becoming a Pharmacy Technician to pursue a chosen career path even where is no nearby program available. There are two critical points to keep in mind is to check before enrolment.
A career in this field may require you to meet certain licensing, training, and other requirements that can vary by vocation and state including ASHP accreditation. You should check with your state, local government and/or licensing board to find out which requirements may be applicable in your state.
Secondly, ensure all program requirements including classwork and externship, can be completed given your own individual circumstances.
Luckily, there are many options available today thanks to emerging technologies. There is a wealth of information and it is easily accessible online. So take your time and carefully sort through the pharmacy technician program admission requirements, required courses, externship locations, and job requirements.