IPSF Allows for International Cultural and Pharmacy Practices Exchange

Emily Keeler
IPSF student
Martina Boxler, a student from Switzerland

In the practice of pharmacy, pharmacists tend to solve problems and perform their practices based on what they have been taught in the location they practice. One subgroup of the American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) hopes to show pharmacy students how to better solve local pharmacy issues by connecting with others from around the world.

The International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) was founded in 1949 by eight pharmacy student associations in London. The Federation now represents around 350,000 pharmacy students and recent graduates in 84 countries worldwide. IPSF is a non-governmental, non-political and non-religious organization and is the leading international advocacy organization of pharmacy students promoting improved public health through provision of information, education, networking, and a range of publication and professional activities. (http://www.ipsf.org/)

IPSF has welcomed four international pharmacy students to The Ohio State University college of pharmacy. The students, from Malaysia, Hungary, Portugal and Switzerland, participated in rotations to learn about pharmacy practices in the United States.

“We receive applications from students throughout the entire world to participate in this program,” said Jackie Hawn, a Doctor of Pharmacy student at Ohio State and chair of the IPSF. “This year we invited Martina Boxler from Switzerland, and she was able to complete 60 hours of rotation time participating in a variety of experiences, including neurology and anti-coagulation ambulatory clinics, a variety of community and outpatient practice sites, compounding at one community site, and hospital practice." 

The program’s goal is to help broaden Ohio State and international students’ minds about the international practice of pharmacy. Hawn described how Martina was able to learn things here that she can implement back in Switzerland, but Hawn also acknowledges how much she learned from working with Martina.

“I learned a lot from her about pharmaceutical practices in Switzerland,” said Hawn. “This program allows us to learn how we can improve in the United States and network with people across the globe.”

As chair of IPSF, Hawn also helped Martina become acclimated to the Columbus area, which helped both learn about daily life in each other’s countries.

“Martina would comment a lot on our transportation systems here in Columbus,” said Hawn. “She was always wondering why people drove so much instead of riding bikes like they do in Switzerland. It’s these little things that help us better understand one another’s culture.”

In addition to the exchange program, IPSF also has events, including AIDS and Tuberculosis awareness campaigns and blood drives to promote global health. This year, IPSF is planning to participate in World AIDs Day in December by distributing ribbons and information about AIDS awareness.

The program is made possible by a host of people, including Professor Gerald Cable, RPh, who helps plan rotations for the students; Lisa Cillessen, former chair of IPSF; Ankita Jalavadia, co-chair of IPSF with Hawn; and Claire Wang, a member of IPSF’s committee.

“An experience like this helps broaden our minds past our borders,” said Hawn. “This program is all about global health and how we can improve it through global collaboration.”