Discover Pharmacy Camp Has High School Students Exploring the Profession


High school students will explore pharmacy careers through activities such as extracting DNA from strawberries, and getting out of a pharmacy-themed escape room, during the upcoming Discover Pharmacy day camp, at Wilkes University.

High school students will explore pharmacy careers through activities, such as extracting DNA from strawberries and getting out of a pharmacy-themed escape room, during the upcoming Discover Pharmacy day camp at Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Intended for rising high school juniors and seniors, the camp is partially inspired by the 'Pharmacy is Right for Me' national campaign, which aims to provide students, parents, and educators with tools and resources that give insight into career opportunities in pharmacy. It runs August 13-14, 2019.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), there are 144 colleges and schools of pharmacy based in the United States. Professional student pharmacist enrollments were down 0.9% in 2018 when compared with fall 2017 enrollments, and attrition estimates over the past 5 years have averaged 11.6% per class.1

Julie Olenak, assistant dean of student affairs and organizer of the camp, said she's hopeful that the camp will pique students' interest and start them on a path toward successful pharmacy careers. Each session during the 2-day camp will be led by different faculty members and local pharmacists, each with different areas of expertise. Other activities will include training to use naloxone, making bath bombs, and learning to prepare IVs.

"To me, students do not know all of the opportunities in pharmacy," Olenak said. "But this will help introduce them to all different aspects of the field."

When planning the camp, Olenak recruited pharmacists from all around the community, and said she also hopes this camp serves as an example to other pharmacists, who can reach out to their local schools and expand knowledge of the field in their own communities. Her work as a community pharmacist is one focus that students might be more familiar with, but other instructors have backgrounds in Hepatitis C, oncology, and cardiovascular care.

"Really, we're just combining the different specialties," Olenak said. "A student might not think they're interested in pharmacy because they don't think they can work in oncology or with cancer patients, but the camp will hopefully show them that they can do that."

While Olenak's first goal is to introduce students to the pharmacy field, her second goal is to introduce high school students to the university atmosphere. The camp is capped at 25 students to mimic the real lab experience, complete with mentoring and 1-on-1 opportunities with current pharmacy students, faculty, deans, and working pharmacists.

Students were charged $50 each to attend the 2-day camp. The application deadline closed August 1.2

Next summer, Olenak said they plan to expand the camp to multiple sessions throughout the summer, so that even more students can get involved and interested in the profession. The 25-person limit was reached remarkably quickly, Olenak said, and now she has a waiting list.

Above all, Olenak said she's hopeful that the camp will not only expand student's understanding of various opportunities in the field, but that it could even influence them to pursue it as a profession.

"I would be just as happy to hear that one of these students is choosing pharmacy, regardless of if it's at Wilkes," she said. "I just truly love my job."


  • American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. Academic Pharmacy's Vital Statistics. AACP website. Accessed August 7, 2019.
  • Mayk V. High School Juniors, Seniors Can “Discover Pharmacy” at Wilkes University During Two-Day Camp, August 13-14. Wilkes University News. Published July 11, 2019. Accessed August 7, 2019.

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