Pharmacy Schools in Texas: Seven Great Choices in the Great State

Pharmacy schools are opening all over the country, and the great state of Texas is included in this boom. Pharmacology is a great career option and a growing field. The medical field is one sector that rarely shows an employment decline, even in a bad economy. The influx of pharmacology schools reflects the high demand for pharmacists, a well-respected and high paying job. Students in Texas who are considering careers in pharmacology are fortunate to have a variety of choices. Pharmacology schools can be difficult to get into, and students looking to get into pharmacy schools in Texas have seven different choices.

Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy – This school is located on the College’s Kingsville Campus. This school was created in response to a shortage of pharmacists in the border region.
Texas Southern University College of Pharmacy and Health Services – Located in Houston, this facility offers Doctor of Pharmacology degrees, as well as many other types of Health Services degrees.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy – This Pharmacy School in Texas is a large research facility.
University of Houston College of Pharmacy – The Houston based Pharmacy School offers several different degrees, and also the opportunity for post-doctoral research fellowships.
University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy – This private Catholic university in San Antonio offers a new Doctor of Pharmacy program.
University of North Texas System College of Pharmacy – This new pharmacy program is the first where future pharmacists will be educated beside future physicians.
University of Texas College of Pharmacy – In 2008, US News and World Report ranked this school among the elite programs of Pharmacology Education in the United States.
Apply Early

If you are hoping to get into one of these pharmacy schools in Texas, it is recommended that you apply early. Competition is fierce for admission, and the earlier you apply, the better. It is also recommended that you apply to more than one school. Admissions are selective, and if you are not able to get into one of these fine schools, you have a chance of being accepted by another. If you only apply to one school and are not accepted, you will have to wait a full year before you are able to apply again.

So you can see that if you are looking at Pharmacy Schools in Texas, you have a variety of excellent college choices, and you would be lucky to get into any one of them. The growing profession of pharmacology is a demanding and worthwhile career. Pharmacists have a great deal of responsibility, and the pay reflects that. Pharmacists can find work in hospitals, drug stores, or retail and grocery stores which have a pharmacy. Specialty compounding pharmacies also employ pharmacists. This growing field is mirrored in the growing number of pharmacy schools which is spring up all over America. In the great state of Texas, you have seven great choices of pharmacy school.

Pharmacy Schools in Texas and the 3 Tips to Getting Into Them

If you are interested in getting into a pharmacy school in Texas you should try to at least find out of all of the pharmacy schools in the state of Texas. Why? This way you will have more options. As of this writing, none of the pharmacy schools in Texas participate in Pharmcas. This is the central service application processing unit, where for a fee, depending on how many schools you apply to, will send out your application to the schools of interest for your behalf. It is similar to AMCAS, the central application processing unit for pre-med students who are applying to medical school. Below are the pharmacy schools in Texas:

1) Texas A&M University – Kingsville School of Pharmacy

2) Texas Southern University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

3) Texas Tech University

4) University of Houston College of Pharmacy

5) University of the Incarnate Word School of Pharmacy

6) University of North Texas School of Pharmacy

7) University of Texas College of Pharmacy

So as you can see, there are a total of 7 pharmacy schools in the great state of Texas. There are plenty to choose from. You might want to take a look at the school’s website for pharmacy school requirements and other requirements needed in order to apply to get into the school.

Now the 3 Big Tips in applying and hopefully getting into any one of the 7 pharmacy schools in Texas are:

1) I can not stress this enough so I am going to repeat it. Do everything early.

2) Be knowledgeable of the application process

3) Never be scared to call up the various pharmacy schools for information or advice. The longer you wait to get important information, the lower chance of your acceptance.

Pharmacy Technician Jobs in Texas – What Certification Do You Need?

While it is not mandatory that one goes and receives a formal education to become a pharmacy technician in Texas, it is highly recommended. If one decides to receive the higher education, the opportunities opened up to the individual are much higher than if one decided to simply experience job training on the job. Those who have certifications, and degrees in being a pharmacy technician are more likely to go on to be a pharmacist and more likely to be promoted to a manager position.

Those who do go to a formal education in pharmacy take several classes related to pharmacy such as medical and pharmaceutical terminology, technique, record keeping, law and ethics. Other things to learn are the names of the medications and the side effects and doses of the medications. These classes help to prepare the pharmacy technician to do the job without having to rely upon any in house training or job training at the work place. This makes the student able to go into a position and do the job and be of immediate assistance.

This formal education can often result in good working internships and associate’s degrees or other certification depending upon the program, indicating that the student is able to perform the job in a qualified manner. Once a formal education or on the job education has been obtained, being certified with the boards is important to increase one’s job prospective.

The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board are the two primary certification boards that most Pharmacy Technicians are asked to become certified with. While this certification is not mandatory in the state of Texas, it is recommended and may be mandatory with the job or pharmacy that one decides to work for.

These two certification boards offer a test and a back ground check into the individual. One can not have any drug or pharmacy related criminal history and no felonies for the past five years before applying for the certification. Recertification is required every two years and requires twenty hours of continuing education throughout those two years. At least one hour of those twenty hours must be in pharmacy law and ten of those hours can be earned on the job under the supervision and instruction of a pharmacist.

While education and certification are not necessary, they are highly recommended for those who are wishing to become pharmacy technicians in Texas.

Niche Pharmacies and Prescription Drug Fee Reimbursement in the Texas Workers’ Compensation System

One of the current trend issues in medical fee dispute resolution circles is pharmacy reimbursement. Niche pharmacies have entered the Texas workers’ compensation market. These pharmacies only market and provide services to injured workers. They do not fill prescriptions for non-workers’ compensation patients. Some are national retailers to injured workers, and others are more local, servicing their surrounding communities. Regardless of their size and the scope of their market(s), they are all dealing with one common fee dispute in Texas – a proxy for the pharmacy’s usual and customary fee.

The maximum allowable reimbursement (MAR) for prescription drugs is set by Division Rule 134.503(a). Under the Rule, the MAR is the lesser of:

1. The provider’s usual and customary charge;

2. A formula based on average wholesale price, a modifier and a dispensing fee;

or,

3. a negotiated or contract price.

If there was a negotiated or contract price, then there would be little need for litigation over a single prescription bill. The recent cases being set before the Division are disagreements over a pharmacy’s usual and customary charges. The pharmacies are billing an amount greater than the formula-based MAR so that the formula-based MAR is paid in every case.

There are many factors in establishing the price of a product – some unique to the workers’ compensation system. In Medical Dispute Resolution case number M4-02-5033-01, the pharmacy argued that it had to factor into its price the unique aspects of: verification that claims relate to compensable workplace injuries, identification of insurers providing coverage and their adjustors, the preparation and submissions of manual claims forms, verification of eligibility for compensation, and the extension of credit pending payment by insurers that is not required until sixty days after the submission of “clean claims.” Considering that the formula-based MAR uses modifiers ranging from 1.09 to 1.25 with only a $4.00 dispensing fee, it can be easy to see how usual and customary prices can be established that exceed the formula-based MAR.

If these cases involved large pharmacies with high volume non-workers’ compensation services, then the operating costs of providing workers’ compensation-related services would be offset by the efficiency and volume of the non-workers’ compensation-related services. Prices would probably tend to be lower in that scenario. But that is not the case with these niche pharmacies marketing only to injured workers. The only way they can get reimbursement is to navigate complex reimbursement systems that require more sophisticated knowledge, greater manpower and longer delays of payment than non-workers’ compensation systems.

Regardless of the justification (or lack thereof) of the prices established by these niche pharmacies, it is not why the pharmacy charges a particular amount, but whether it can establish that it does usually charge a particular amount that is important. Rule 134.503(a) specifically provides that one of the comparison measures for the selection of the MAR value for prescription drugs is the provider’s usual and customary price. The question is not whether the usual and customary price charged is justified. The question is whether the price charged is in fact usual and customary; is it the regular price charged by that provider?

This is the crux of the dispute in these cases. In non-workers’ compensation situations, many of the larger national pharmacies have negotiated contract prices well below the Texas formula-based MAR. These niche pharmacies that only provide services to injured workers have not. So insurance companies are seeing workers’ compensation providers obtaining a higher reimbursement for a particular prescription than it usually pays in non-workers’ compensation situations. This led to attempts to curb these niche pharmacy’s fee reimbursements.

There is only one Medical Contested Case Hearing so far on this issue, reported as Medical Contested Case Hearing Number 10169, and it went through the system as Tracking Number M4-07-4069-01. In this case, the carrier made a partial reimbursement and urged two main reasons why additional reimbursement should not be paid.

First, the carrier had to make some type of reimbursement as there was no dispute over medical necessity. The carrier had negotiated a contract price with another pharmacy or pharmacy clearing house and paid the amount it would have had to pay under that contract. The carrier then argued that the clearing house’s price is a good proxy for the niche pharmacy’s usual and customary price simply because the clearing house has contracted with other pharmacies to pay less than the niche pharmacy’s price. So the carrier argued that the usual and customary price it pays should be the measure for MAR, not the provider’s usual and customary charge.

Secondly, the carrier attempted to use Texas Labor Code Section 415.005 as a bar to additional reimbursement. That section provides that a health care provider commits a violation if the person charges an insurance carrier an amount greater than that normally charged for similar treatment to a payor outside the workers’ compensation system, except for mandated or negotiated charges. The carrier argued that if the pharmacy cannot show what it charges outside of the workers’ compensation system, then it has not proven its usual and customary charge and would not be owed any additional reimbursement. Being a niche pharmacy, only providing services to injured workers, the pharmacy could not show charges outside of the workers’ compensation system. Of course this begs the question: why did the carrier pay anything at all in the first place? If the argument is that (1) a failure to prove usual charges outside of the workers’ compensation system means there is no usual and customary charge established, (2) which means there can be no determination of whether usual and customary or the formula-based MAR is the lesser charge, so (3) no reimbursement is owed, then no reimbursement would have been owed in the first place.

Judge Cole wrote an opinion that tracked the plain language of the law. He found that there is no provision requiring the pharmacy to establish the usual and customary charge for the prescriptions filled for customers outside of the workers’ compensation system if the pharmacy does not fill prescriptions outside of the workers’ compensation system. Likewise, under the Act and Rules, there is no provision allowing a carrier to substitute a proxy’s charge as the usual and customary charge. There are only three methods to establish the proper reimbursement under the Rule. Allowing a carrier to make up a fourth method is not one of the three methods. The only requirement under Rule 134.503(a) is that the pharmacy establish its own usual and customary charge. Some other pharmacy’s usual and customary charge is not relevant.

Texas Labor Code Section 415.005 is being interpreted to be a comparison of one provider’s own charges inside and outside of the workers’ compensation system. It is not a measure of one provider’s charges inside the system to other provider’s charges outside of the workers’ compensation system. This is a significant distinction in this opinion.

Additionally, Texas Labor Code Section 415.005 addresses the multi-jurisdictional issues that arise with national workers’ compensation pharmacies. These pharmacies may charge a different rate in some states than others because of varying fee schedules. For instance, in New Jersey there is a law forbidding a health care provider from demanding or requesting any payment in excess of those permitted in the fee schedule (N.J.A.C. 11:3-29). That system is not like the Texas system that allows a usual and customary billing that is reduced to the proper fee schedule amount by the insurance carrier. Section 415.005 protects providers in Texas who also provide services in other states for a mandated fee – the lower fees billed in other states due to fee guidelines do not affect the calculation of the Texas provider’s usual and customary charges.

The end result is that we now know that the Rule means what it says: if a pharmacy can show that it has billed its usual and customary charge for a prescription drug, then it will be paid that amount, or the formula-based MAR, whichever is less.

Learn Some of the Duties and Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Technician

The salary of a pharmacy technician (PT) is competitive. In fact, the median starting salary rate in this position is more than $28,000 with a median hourly wage of over $13 as of 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With extensive training experience, the annual rate will go up. But the salary range will depend on the place where the pharmacy tech is working. Those who work with the federal government are the highest earners in the PT field. They are followed by those who work in the technical consulting services. California, Texas, and Florida are the states where the employment rate in this occupation is high.

Duties and responsibilities

A pharmacy tech career is part of the health care industry. They do not deal with patients hands on. They work in a low-stress work environment located in stores or in hospitals. Their duties will include the following:

-Preparing medications

-Counting tablets

-Labeling of prescription bottles

-Other administrative duties such as answering the phone, stocking shelves and operating the cash register.

In addition to the above mentioned duties, PT’s will also help patients or customers with the information about their prescription medications and health. They are also tasked to keep a well-organized patient profile information. In this way, the pharmacy will run smoothly.

Career requirements

-Finished a high school diploma

-Registered with the state board of pharmaceuticals

-Completed 20 hours of continuing education. This is a requirement to renew certification.

The certification obtained by a pharmacy technician should be renewed every two years. Within that 2-year period, he must complete a 20-hour continuing education that can be earned from colleges, pharmacy associations, and pharmacy technician training programs. Or pharmacy techs can renew their certificate if they have completed 10 hours of continuing education on the job under the supervision of a pharmacist.

Although certification is not mandatory in the US, certified pharmacy techs are likely to make more than those who have not obtained any certification in this field. In other words, certification is a one of the different ways to earn a higher salary.

Possible work locations

Here are some of the possible locations where a he/she can apply for work in:

-Independent pharmacies

-Grocery stores

-Drug chains

-Department stores

-Hospitals

-Internet pharmacies

-Doctor’s office

Individuals who are vying to become a pharmacy technician may look for work by visiting national online job listing sites. They have several job offerings for pharmacy techs in various parts of the country. Job listings are also posted on online news publication. An individual must have the basic requirements for this position to be hired.