Self study or online pharm tech class?

by Student
(Ohio)

Currently I'm wanting to become a certified pharmacy tech and I wanted to ask something. I bought the study guide book and workbook and all that fun stuff but I have the hardest time settling down and studying on my own. The math is just so overwhelming for me and all the Top 200 drug names to memorize are driving me nuts!

My question is this: Do you think it's worth it to pay for an online accredited PTCB course with pretty much the same textbooks and probably just online ways to learn the same thing? OR-will it be the same outcome if I just sit down and study hard on my own?

I want to take the test and be ready but I just don't know what to do. A friend of mine said that I can study on my own and take the test and save lots more money doing it that way.

I welcome any suggestions you have for me as I really want to do well and pass the PTCB the first time and feel comfortable with it.


Reply (by Contributor)

Your question is one that is commonly asked. To answer it directly; If you're looking to take the
PTCB or ExCPT exam and become nationally certified, then YES, the outcome would be the same if you studied on your own instead of paying for online classes. But, you'll need to do some soul-searching and realistically decide if you're disciplined enough to crack the books or (to log on every day) to do an online program. In addition to that, will you be able to keep notes and organize everything on your own accord? Many people can, and absolutely love the flexibility that self-study or an online pharmacy tech program offers. So, if you're simply looking to pass the pharmacy tech national exam and can go through everything on your own and study it, then you could probably pass the PTCB or ExCPT, yes.

How I did it:
Not long (a few years) ago I was in the same position. In fact, I 'd decided to self-study and purchased some PTCB study books, workbooks and top 200 drug flash cards. I was ready to move mountains, yet, had a tough time getting going for months. Life's obligations and distractions were constantly taking priority. At the time, I'd also considered taking online pharmacy tech classes, thinking that might be better for me. I know they work good for many, but just finally realized I didn't have the discipline to do one all on my own. I fully admit that I need more structure than online classes offer. By structure, I mean the accountability of being in a class or meeting at a given time and place to make a presentation or turn in work. I fall within the category of people who need more accountability and motivation, it's just how I'm wired.

As such, I also briefly explored the local tech schools in my area. I went for tours at places like Pioneer Pacific, Carrington (Apollo), Bryman, Everest, Anthem and eventually an intro meeting at a local community college. The schools had slick salespeople, and each experience
felt much like buying a new car, or annual gym membership. In the end, I considered the program at the community college, but it was still thousands of dollars and offered no externship opportunity or job placement. Even though the tech schools I mention all seemed like a big sales pitch, most of them did guaranteed job placement assistance. But to be fair, a good friend who is very smart and presentable went to one of them because of placement assistance. She had enthusiasm and aced the program and then scored highly on the PTCB. then, in two years after graduation, all they ever found her was 3 externships, a few temp jobs, several volunteer spots and unlimited empty promises. In the years I've been in the pharmacy tech loop, outside of the amazing stories the sales representatives tell at the tech schools of their graduates finding great jobs, I've never heard of (a verifiable) one personally.

So, to my good fortune I found a study partner who also wanted to start studying for the PTCB . Her and I met for a few hours 2-3 times a week for months. We initially decided on a self study program and followed it closely, even taking mock tests and grading each other and deciding on homework tasks. Later, we also quizzed each other on drug names, shared some ideas about memorizing abbreviations and came up with some shortcuts to lengthy math problems. We ended up doing lots of extra research online and in reference books, since the program books we were using were older and filled with fluff. During that time, I also found some online forums and Yahoo! groups focused on PTCB test prep. And, although those mostly just filled up my email box with inane messages full of opinions from the moderators, we occasionally learned a few things.

In many ways, I can personally attest to the possibility of success with self study. But, one luxury I had was lots of time and lack of obligations. I wasn't under the gun to get a paycheck coming in within a certain time. I mention that because it seems that comes into play for most people. That different perspective can force a decision to take whichever route is faster and easier. The online and tech colleges know this, and try their best to appeal to it. So, try to make these decisions on your own before reading into too much hype. Either way, I think a career as a pharmacy technician will prove to be secure and rewarding over the long term. Keep moving forward and harness all of the information you can get your hands on. Best of luck

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