STEP – Students Exploring Pharmacy

A summer program for high school students

(UPDATED 4/7/2020) – Due to the ongoing and evolving COVID-19 situation, the STEP 2020 Summer program has been cancelled. While we considered alternate formats of delivery for the program, we have come to the conclusion that we will be unable to offer the program to the standard we would like. We look forward to opportunities to interact with high school students in the future.

Program Overview

Students Exploring Pharmacy (STEP) is a customized program designed to inspire high school students as they explore pharmacy as a career option. Students engage in hands-on activities that provide an introduction to pharmacy practice and perspective on the numerous ways a pharmacist contributes to improving people’s health—in ways that go far beyond dispensing medications.

UW School of Pharmacy faculty, who are nationally-known experts, teach classes and facilitate activities. The UW School of Pharmacy is ranked in the top 10 nationally and internationally and has pioneered leading-edge pharmacy practices.

Pharmacy as a Career

Pharmacists are the medication experts on the healthcare team. They work collaboratively with physicians and other providers to treat and prevent illness, and to improve and monitor people’s health. Pharmacists’ professional training gives them full mastery of medication therapy—with the goal of improving a patient’s quality of life.

Pharmacists work in a variety of settings, including community-based pharmacies, long-term care facilities, hospitals, clinics, and research labs.

Careers in pharmacy consistently rank at the top in the U.S. for salary, job satisfaction, growth opportunity, and work-life balance. The demand for well-trained pharmacists continues to grow.


All students who will be in high school as of Autumn 2020 are eligible to apply, including incoming freshmen.  Graduating seniors are encouraged to contact the PharmD Program directly for other opportunities to connect


The tuition fee for this four-day program in 2020 is still to be finalized but is likely to be about $80 per student. This fee includes all courses, activities, and lunches for the entirety of the program. The fee is non-refundable.

Limited scholarships may be available. Please email for more information.

Included in the Program

  • Hands-on activities in the UW’s Bracken Pharmacy Learning Center
  • Healthcare communication skills
  • Pharmacy calculations basics
  • Discussions with pharmacists from various specialty areas
  • Interaction with current pharmacy students
  • A field trip to a pharmacy
  • The opportunity to explore a wide-range of career options in the pharmacy field
  • Daily lunches
  • School of Pharmacy T-shirt and other “swag”

How to Apply

Applications must include the following materials:

  • Application Form
  • A 250-word maximum personal statement submitted via Dropbox discussing your interest in health, wellness, healing, medical care, or related fields. Please include any personal experiences that may have contributed to your interests.
    • IMPORTANT: save your personal statement with the title: “Lastname. Firstname.PS.”
  • One letter of recommendation (from a teacher, counselor/advisor, other school official or supervisor)

Note: Your recommender will receive a link via email to submit their letter of recommendation up to 2 business days after you submit the application form.

2021 Application deadline: TBD
Application review will begin after the deadline. All relevant details including schedules and directions will be sent once you are accepted and have paid the tuition fee.


Program Outline*

Day Theme(s)
  • The role of the pharmacist
  • Recognizing drug-related issues
  • Medication adherence
  • Personalizing medicine for patients
  • Pharmaceutical compounding
  • Antibiotics, bacteria and infections
  • Careers in pharmacy
  • Specialty pharmacy

*Tentative, subject to change
To request disability accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office at 206-543-6450 (voice), 206-543-6452 (TTY), 206-685-7264 (fax), or The University of Washington makes every effort to honor disability accommodation requests. Requests can be responded to most effectively if received as far in advance of the event as possible, preferably at least 10 days.


dubs-studentsQ: How do I get to campus?
The UW School of Pharmacy is conveniently located in the Magnuson Health Sciences Building. Students can easily travel to campus using light rail or buses. Transportation is the responsibility of the student/family.

Q: What will I do in the program?
As a student you will attend interactive presentations, labs, discussion groups, and workshops. You will learn health information, basic medication compounding procedures, approaches to treating illnesses, ways to improve the quality of medication-related healthcare, and clinical skills such as counseling a patient and measuring blood pressure.

Q: Where can I find a detailed schedule?
A detailed schedule for the STEP Summer Program will be available to students admitted to the program. In the meantime you can view the schedule from 2017 as a reference here. Students will spend approximately seven hours a day engaged in activities (9 AM to 4 PM).

Q: Is there an active component to the program?
Yes, students will have an opportunity take part in some physical activities (such as a university scavenger hunt or bowling). Alternate activities will be available for students needing accommodation.

Q: Who do I contact if I have questions?
UW School of Pharmacy