Choosing Among Online Pharmacy Technician Programs – 5 Key Factors
Online pharmacy technician programs are an excellent option to jumpstart a new career. Depending on a state’s pharmacy laws and regulations, pursuing pharmacy technician certification online may be all that is needed for post-high school education. With several online pharmacy tech programs available, picking the best option can be tough. Several important factors should be considered when determining the optimal program.
1. Official Recognition and Credentialing
First and foremost, the program should be officially recognized by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) as an education program for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). Only completion of officially recognized programs will satisfy the eligibility requirements for the PTCE in lieu of 500-hours of working experience as a pharmacy technician. Program status can be verified using the PTCB-recognized training program directory.
Another credentialing consideration is whether or not the program is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. This accreditation has rigorous requirements for educators, including 400 hours of experiential training. This type of training requires a live working environment. Pharmacy technician courses that are online only are not eligible for accreditation. Due to these requirements, ASHP-accredited programs will be more expensive and typically take longer to complete than online-only programs with PTCB-recognition. However, these programs are required in some states so always check state requirements for pharmacy technicians prior to deciding on an education program.
2. Credibility of Faculty
All pharmacy technician education and training programs should be led by well credentialed pharmacy professionals. The PTCB requires program directors to be licensed pharmacists or certified pharmacy technicians. We are of the opinion that this is the minimum requirement of program directors and teaching faculty for online pharmacy technician programs. When evaluating a program, seek out information on the faculty. It should be easy to locate on the program website. If you cannot verify the background and credentials of the teaching faculty for the program, look elsewhere!
Ideally, the faculty member should have broad experience both as a working pharmacy professional and as an educator. This experience is critical to ensure the educator is qualified to teach aspiring pharmacy technicians the important aspects of the profession. Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in a safe and effective medication use system. Without experience in all aspects of pharmacy, an educator is not equipped to ensure that students gain the knowledge that is required of a certified pharmacy technician.
3. Performance History
All PTCB-recognized training and education programs receive feedback reports on their students’ performance on the PTCE. The PTCE is a challenging exam, with an average pass rate around 70% across the nation this year. While pharmacy technician programs should not be tailored only to the PTCE, a good program will prepare students to do well on the exam. Online pharmacy technician programs are no different. Before enrolling, prospective students should request information on the performance record of the program.
Additionally, programs should be transparent about the date range that the performance is reported for. Test questions and the scoring algorithms change over time depending on how students across the country are doing on the exam. Passing rates appear to be a bit lower in 2021. Passing rates from older time periods may not adequately reflect more recent performance.
4. Customer Service and Faculty Availability
Students of online pharmacy technician programs are paying customers and should expect top notch service from the education organization. Online courses are often created as a passive income generating businesses and are not well maintained. Expert faculty may not be available for quick turnaround of questions, or even available for live instruction at all. Pharmacy is a unique profession. To be truly prepared to enter the workforce, a pharmacy technician needs some guidance and mentorship on how to prepare for a career. In today’s virtual environment, all pharmacy programs should be able to offer a live virtual learning component to their program. Ensure that this is offered and that the faculty facilitating the learning is credible.
Think of education as an investment. Online only pharmacy tech programs tend to be more affordable than in person programs. While many students will be concerned with finding the cheapest program possible, the value of the education should be the most important consideration. The program should adequately prepare the student to attain national certification and enter the workforce ready to excel in on-the-job training. Relatively small differences in program costs should not deter students from pursuing a more credible and comprehensive learning experience. The old adage of “you get what you pay for” certainly applies here!
We wish all aspiring pharmacy technicians the best of luck in finding the education program that is best for them. We are proud to offer a high-value online pharmacy technician training program that is seeing an 86% pass rate compared to the 70% national average in the past quarter. Feel free to click this link to request more information on whether or not our program will meet your needs.