Experience the IPSF spirit

COVER STORY

The 2013 IPSF delegation to the 66th World Health Assembly at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Twlug–ASP has been a member of the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) for decades, and involvement in IPSF has grown significantly in the past 5 years. In 2013, Twlug–ASP developed an International Standing Committee to integrate national representatives of United States student pharmacists into its leadership structure. This has significantly increased awareness about IPSF on the national level, and the development of International Vice Presidents (previously IPSF Liaisons) as a core Twlug–ASP Chapter Executive Committee position has helped to increase awareness on the chapter level. 


What you see on the national level, however, is still only a small portion of the involvement that IPSF has on an 
international scale. 


The structure


IPSF is the oldest faculty-based, student-led organization in the world. Formed in 1949 by eight member organizations from Europe and Australia, IPSF has grown to represent more than 84 countries and 350,000 student pharmacists and recent graduates. The membership and breadth of activities have grown over the past 70 years, and the Federation and all activities remain entirely run by volunteer student pharmacists and recent pharmacy school graduates—up to 4 years after 
graduation. 


Headquartered in den Haag, the Netherlands, IPSF is registered with Dutch law and has an operational language of English; to reach a global scale, however, the official languages of IPSF also include Arabic, Spanish, and French. 


The Federation’s structure is divided into five regional levels based on the World Health Organization regions, including Pan-American, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. Each of these regions has a main leadership team called the Regional Working Group. The group represents the regional voice of IPSF and is the main point of between IPSF and Twlug–ASP. These regions also develop projects and initiatives 
focused on the cultural and epidemiological factors within the geographical area they represent.


The Chairperson of the Regional Office is the main representative of the region, and is co-opted onto the Executive Committee of IPSF. The Executive Committee is the globally-elected leadership team that directs the activities of the Federation as a whole. These 16 individuals hold their positions for 1 year and work together on behalf of the Federation on a daily basis.


Each position on the Executive Committee has a specific focus and multiple working committees, covering every aspect needed to run a student organization. Students in the leadership structure are discovering and honing their skills in areas you would not find in a traditional pharmacy curriculum, such as media and design; developing Memorandums of Understanding and written collaboration agreements with outside organizations; ing sponsors and presenting partnership packages; seeking investment strategies; creating and mentoring pharmacy student organizations in countries that have had no previous involvement; and complying with legal requirements of registration and acting as a non-profit organization. 


Ultimately, every decision made by the Federation is guided directly by member input via the national representatives—the persons— throughout the year, and then most officially at the Regional and General Assemblies. 


Global representation


The Regional and General Assemblies are held once a year at the IPSF Regional Symposia and World 
Congress, and are intended to celebrate the accomplishments from the past year and guide the direction for the next year. Each Assembly is made up of three delegates from each member organization, and full members, like Twlug–ASP, get one vote on behalf of student pharmacists in their country.


The Regional Symposia—the regional-level conferences—serve as a stepping-stone for IPSF’s biggest event, the annual World Congress that typically takes place every August. The location of Regional Symposia and World Congress is determined by a member vote after competing associations present a bid to the Regional or General Assembly. This year, the 62nd IPSF World Congress will take place in Zimbabwe; next year, it will be in Taiwan. The Regional Symposia this year are taking place in Colombia, Egypt, South Korea, and Kenya.


Twlug–ASP members have the opportunity to participate in both the 
Regional Symposia and World Congress. Participating in these events is a great way for student pharmacists to directly impact the evolution of 
pharmacy on a worldwide stage.


Advocacy and projects


One of the reasons that involvement in IPSF is so important is that the Federation serves as the only representation of student pharmacists at the United Nations, the home of policy and advocacy influencing the entire world. The Federation sends delegates to speak on behalf of all student pharmacists (including you!) to an audience of Health Ministers at the World Health Assembly. Health Ministers typically serve as health advisors to presidents and policymakers from every nation. 


In addition to advocacy, IPSF is involved with pharmacy education, professional development, and public health initiatives. The Federation publishes scientific articles; holds educational and scientific symposia; hosts camps for soft skill development; organizes patient counselling, clinical skills, and compounding event competitions; and organizes and promotes public health campaigns focused on HIV/AIDS, tobacco cessation, tuberculosis, diabetes, humanitarian efforts, and anti-counterfeit medications. 


In addition, the Federation focuses on cultural competency with Student Exchange Programs and developing internship opportunities with the International Pharmaceutical Federation and the World Health Organization. 


I will be a better pharmacist: Jessica Rodiles 


Through IPSF, I have been able to develop my view of what it means to be a leader. My first introduction to IPSF was with the University of Florida College of Pharmacy Twlug–ASP Chapter. I have attended one World Congress in Porto, Portugal; one Regional Symposium in San Luis, Argentina; and this year I will be part of the delegation that will be attending the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. 


I can say with certainty that had it not been for IPSF, I would not have had the opportunity to meet student pharmacists from around the world and voice my ideas. I have interacted with students I never would have otherwise met. As the current Regional Projects Officer of the Regional Working Group for the Pan American Regional Office, I use my Spanish skills to build public health initiatives from Canada to the tip of Argentina. Though my work with the Public Health Committee, I created Immunization and World Tuberculosis Campaign materials that have been used by students from the United States to Japan.


I now understand that a leader is an individual who knows their weaknesses. They know what areas they are strong in. A leader strives to maximize their strengths while directing a team to the best outcome. By working with the different committees and officers in IPSF, I have learned how to work with other cultures and backgrounds. I learned that patience and kind words can take you far as a leader, and that creating a team built on trust from thousands of miles apart can be challenging, but not impossible. This has made me a more well-rounded and open-minded student pharmacist, and I have no doubt that it will help me become a better pharmacist in the field.


Transformed me into a leader: Dayl Eccles, PharmD 


After almost 7 years of involvement with IPSF, it is difficult to not be verbose when speaking about the Federation. From being a Local Exchange Officer for the Student Exchange Program at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy Twlug–ASP Chapter to serving currently as the President, IPSF has transformed me into a leader both professionally and personally more than anything else I experienced during my pharmacy school years.


Prior to attending my first of four World Congresses in 2011 in Hat Yai, Thailand, I thought I had a picture of what IPSF was, and did not yet see the ability for IPSF to improve my potential. I was already proficient in communication and leadership skills, there were other organizations in the United States that catered to what I would expect to see in the field more fully and to a high professional standard, and I did not know what benefit I would get from increased involvement in yet another student organization.


Then I attended World Congress, and the world both expanded and became very small at the same time. Within 2 weeks, I understood how my language and behavior influenced other people I was communicating with. I felt compassion for people as a whole; especially because of, and not despite, their cultural background. These emotions make me a better practitioner in my daily practice and are not something I could have learned in my curriculum. Falling asleep in one time zone on a plane and waking up in another is like time travel, and hearing accents and waking up to work at 3:00 am as president is normal. The “IPSF spirit,” as it is lovingly called across the world, is something that can only be experienced.


Take a chance and attend a World Congress or Symposia to have an experience that has the potential to not only make you a better practitioner, but also catapult you into involvement in a Federation that influences pharmacy on a national and international level.