The International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) World Congress is an annual event that provides a forum for pharmacy students from over 60 member countries. This allows pharmacy students from all over the world to meet other like-minded students and learn about topics that affect their profession on a global scale.
The opening ceremony was held among breathtaking views of Ljubljana Castle while participants wined and dined, made new friends and caught up with old colleagues.
The congress is designed so that every member can attend workshops and events that are relevant to their specific interests. The timetable ran three parallel tracks of workshops and sessions every day, including the general assembly, so that delegates always had plenty to choose from.
Students were given the opportunity to develop themselves as young professionals by attending workshops on time management and communication skills. There were special interest workshops on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, humanitarian work and the anti-counterfeit drugs campaign. These workshops showcased IPSF’s current work in these areas and encouraged members’ feedback and contribution.
The official participants for each student association are those who usually have experience of working with the IPSF and will usually attend the general assembly. This assembly is the highest decision-making body in the IPSF.
Future strategies and the development of the federation are discussed at length as the general assembly shares experiences and propose changes to build the IPSF of tomorrow. The importance of a strong international leadership body for pharmacy students is a common goal that all member countries dedicate working towards.
The educational symposium provided lectures and workshops on leadership in practice and entrepreneurship from leading members of the pharmacy profession. Through personality tests, these workshops taught students basic leadership, teamwork and communication skills that are required to be an effective leader. One student said that this helped him understand his own personality and the leadership role he would play as part of a team.
The scientific symposium provided delegates with information on gene therapy and pharmacogenomics, and how these areas affect the evolution of the profession. Lectures discussed the pros and cons of conventional versus complementary medicines in treating cancer. This set the stage for some interesting discussions between delegates from different countries because pharmacists from certain countries practise pharmacy with an emphasis on alternative medicines, whereas others tend to focus on conventional medicines.
A workshop on leadership in clinical pharmacy presented the challenge that many pharmacists face around the world. Students participated in a role play to persuade a hospital board to fund clinical pharmacy in a hospital. Many thought that this workshop identified some of the issues they may experience in their future careers and gave them an insight into dealing with similar situations. Some students highlighted the importance of pharmacists being able to take a stand for their profession in order to develop our role.
HPV awareness campaign
The crucial role of pharmacists in health education and awareness is something that participants got to experience through a public awareness campaign on the human papilloma virus was held in the streets of Slovenia.
Students were given a lecture on the topic and then used their newly acquired knowledge to communicate with members of the public to raise awareness of this condition by handing out leaflets. This is one of the biggest public health campaigns the IPSF has undertaken. It encouraged students from different backgrounds and cultures to unite and work together for the same cause.
Apart from attending lectures and workshops, participants were able to unwind to the stunning surroundings and visited Lake Bled. Boat rides on pletnas and dinner in a traditional Slovenian restaurant (with remarkable views of the lake) gave students an insight into the rich Slovenian culture. Traditional Slovenian music and dance allowed participants to show off their moves on the dance floor and to enjoy a relaxed cultural evening.
One evening of the congress was dedicated to an auction. This raises money for the development fund, which provides funding for students from developing countries who are unable to attend IPSF events due to financial constraints. Participants are encouraged to bring souvenirs from their countries to raise money for this cause.
International night invites students from different countries to share their love of their country with others through music, dance, food and drink. This year, Dutch students painted themselves (and everyone else) orange! There were traditional dance performances from the Australians, Ghanaians and Egyptians and songs from the Germans and the Finns. Students were also spoilt with a range of delicacies and drinks.
Next year’s IPSF World Congress will be held in Thailand.
For more information about the IPSF and its annual congress, visit www.ipsf.org
Roohil Yusuf is IPSF contact person (UK) and humanitarian co-ordinator (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
The 56th International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation World Congress was held from 2–12 August 2010 in Ljubljana, Slovenia