This summer, the vibrant city of Glasgow had the privilege of hosting the annual International Pharmaceutical Federation’s 78th World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. I was fortunate to be one of the 25 pharmacy students from the UK selected to be a volunteer and join in on the amazing experience.
This time last year I had no idea about FIP or what they did, but after seeing the RPS’ advertisement to recruit pharmacy student volunteers for the event, a friend and I hesitantly applied and were both successful in the application process.
Initially, I was stunned at just how large the event was, with over 3000 delegates representing almost 100 countries! I also assumed the volunteers would not be heavily involved in the conference, due to the fact we were just students. However, FIP far exceeded our expectations and we were given important tasks and treated as essential members of the team.
For the event, I was allocated to work in the press and speakers’ room with four other students. It was amazing to see behind the scenes and get an understanding of how a media room operates at an international congress. One of my interests lies with photography and the team took this into consideration and gave me the opportunity to be the photographer’s assistant. I was involved in taking, editing and uploading photos to be shared with social media pages, journalists and the public. I even had one of my photos used in a French publication, Le Quotidien du pharmacien.
I also got involved with interviewing the poster presenters, monitoring press releases, and promoting global campaigns such as the World Pharmacist Day.
Alongside these events, I was given the freedom of attending lectures and networking events, such as the opening reception, RPS welcome reception and the Congress closing dinner.
Overall, this experience proved to be really valuable as it was pharmacy related but I also got to develop skills for one of my favourite hobbies. Most of all, I had so much fun!
The main challenge of the event, however, had to be keeping up with the very long hours. My day started at 7 am and ended at 6 pm, not even including the evening events! However, all the friends I made, action-packed days, and good food kept my energy flying.
Attending the conference has made me realise just how many career routes are available with an MPharm degree. I met pharmacists involved in technology, economics, law and journalism. It has really inspired me to look into the further work of FIP, BPSA and join the International Pharmaceutical Student Federation’s social media committee.
My advice to other students would be to undertake as many as opportunities that are open to you. Through this event, I had a lot of great experiences, met so many inspirational people and made lifelong friends. I would definitely recommend this conference to anyone who’s interested.
4th Year Pharmacy Student at the University of Birmingham