The 2022 edition of the Students Exploring Pharmacy (STEP) program recently welcomed 30 local high school juniors and seniors to the University of Washington campus. Each year, the 4-day program invites students to engage in hands-on activities that provide an introduction to pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical sciences and offer a fresh perspective on how pharmacists contribute to improving the health of a community in ways that go far beyond dispensing medications.
For Anna Dimak, now a UWSOP PharmD student, participating in the 2017 STEP event proved to play a pivotal role in her decision to pursue a career in pharmacy.
“STEP was crucial for my pharmacy journey because it introduced me to the profession long before I stepped foot in a pharmacy,” she recalled. “I participated in hands-on activities that taught me more about the pharmacy profession than my hours of Internet research could. Having a low-stress environment to explore various aspects of pharmacy was a lot of fun for me back then and got me excited about pursuing it later. Not only that, but I got to meet people that are still my friends to this day!”
Dimak brought her STEP experience full circle this year, volunteering as an assistant for the event.
“I’ve always enjoyed sharing the exciting bits of my education with those who are a little less familiar with the subject, so this was an amazing opportunity,” she said. “When we made a gel in the Department of Pharmaceutics this year, I remembered making a gel during STEP in 2017. I thought about this while teaching the high schoolers about capsules and wondered if they would experience the same feeling when they take a pharmaceutics course and make capsules again.”
According to Dimak, one of the program’s greatest strengths is that the UWSOP provides a safe, stress-free environment for young students to explore the pharmacy profession.
“I feel like students can really get a good sense of the depth of pharmacy while having lots of fun and meeting great people,” she noted. “Even if students don’t continue on to practice pharmacy, one of STEP’s strengths is it teaches them how to appreciate what pharmacists do.”
Although pharmacy is the emphasis for STEP, students are also exposed to other careers in health care through visits to the UW Nursing Simulation Lab, interacting with representatives from other UW health science programs and taking a virtual tour through the UW Medical Center Pharmacy.
For more information about STEP, visit: https://sop.washington.edu/pharmd/admissions/step-summer-program/