Petra, IPSF President-elect the personality of April.

Petra, IPSF President-elect the personality of April.

By Fabrice HUMURA, Regional Media and Publications Officer.



    Petra Orlić at World Heath Organization Headquarters (Courtesy Photo)

Her name is Petra Orlić and she is the IPSF President-elect for the 2017-18 term. Along with other young professionals from different corners of the world, Petra attended the 7th World Healthcare Students’ Symposium (WHSS) which was held in the immaculate city of Kigali, Rwanda. The IPSF AfRO Media and Publications Office took this singular opportunity and interviewed Petra at 7th WHSS which was ongoing in Kigali, Rwanda.

You may feel slightly nervous meeting Petra for the first time due to her esteemed position, but her jovial personality immediately puts you at ease. Quite different from many other leaders, Petra herself is extremely humble, sometimes in conference she denies the honorable seats at the front for seats at the back of the audience or elsewhere as long as she is with people. Petra is certainly tall in stature, but her reputation stands even taller.  Her intelligence, leadership and humility have been invaluable to IPSF.


Could you tell us about yourself Petra, and your background in education and IPSF?

My name is Petra Orlić and I am the IPSF President-elect from Croatia. I was born and raised on Krk, the biggest island in Croatia. I graduated two years ago from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry at the University of Zagreb. After that, I completed my internship in community pharmacy at City Pharmacies Zagreb and became a licensed pharmacist in Croatia. Currently, I am working at a pharmacovigilance company as a Pharmacovigilance Associate in a case-processing team.


Why did you choose to pursue a career in pharmacy?

In high school, I had to give serious thought to which portfolio I wanted to pursue because I was passionate about different fields. Everything was really interesting to me, so when we were applying for final exams in high school I had to think about which field I wanted to study.

I was originally thinking of studying journalism because that was one of my passions. I later decided that maybe it wasn’t for me and this prompted me to think of a field that allowed me to work with and help people. I came up with pharmacy. It was a field that I could contribute to and still develop myself.  I applied for pharmacy school of which I graduated from in 2015.


That is interesting, you graduated in 2015 and have had many chances to meet different kinds of people. Were your expectations of the pharmacy field met? And how do you see the pharmacy profession now?

I can say that each country has its own pharmaceutical practice and you can’t learn about it unless you are more involved in it. I have had the opportunity to travel around and as the IPSF Chairperson of Student Exchange programme, I’ve seen many different practices in various countries. I would say that pharmacy is currently changing to be more patient-orientated and this means that we always need to be developing our skills in this area.

Tell us about your vision for pharmacy. What do you envision yourself doing in 5 years time?

That’s a hard question because I don’t know really what the future holds. I am always trying to make the most of each and every moment. Currently, as I am the IPSF President-elect, I’ll be serving IPSF for two more years as IPSF President if approved in Argentina, and as the immediate past president of IPSF in the following year.

In the next 5 years, I can see myself becoming more involved with the industry. I will probably stay in the field of pharmacovigilance and regulations but eventually, I want to serve as a pharmacist and move back to community or clinical pharmacy so I can be more patient-oriented.

You have been in IPSF for a number of years. Could you please share with us your journey up to where you are now?

So in the beginning, I spent most of my time studying until I entered fourth year where I was introduced to the Croatian Pharmacy and Medical Biochemistry Students’ Association (CPSA) which is really active in IPSF. I knew about all the projects that were going on and in 2014 I decided that it was time for some international experience. I applied for the Student Exchange programme which was actually my first IPSF event in 2014. I was in Indonesia for five weeks experiencing what the exchange program was all about. In that same year, I applied for the position of Student Exchange Officer for CPSA which I held for two years. In 2015, I went to the IPSF World Congress (WC) held in India where I experienced my first General Assembly and learned a lot as far as IPSF was concerned. During my second mandate as the CPSA SEO, I also served on the IPSF Students’ Exchange Committee and IPSF Professional Development Committee.

In 2015, I graduated but decided to get more involved with IPSF. I felt that it was time to give back to young generations, so I applied and was elected to the position of IPSF Chairperson for Student Exchange at the WC held in Zimbabwe. It was extremely challenging but was also a very rewarding experience as we offered so many opportunities to students in SEP. I was also more involved with Student Exchange Officers around the world and the IPSF Executive Committee.

It was at the beginning of my previous mandate when I started thinking about whether I should be doing more with IPSF or if I should be putting more effort into professional development. Eventually I decided that there are more things I can give to IPSF. I applied for the IPSF President-elect position at the 2017 WC held in Taipei, Taiwan and was elected. I can say I’m extremely honored to be elected to this position.  Currently, over two months has passed of this mandate and I am really happy with how things have been going.


How did you feel when you were announced as the President-elect of this big organization?

(Laugh)  So the feeling itself was happiness but at the same time, I felt an enormous amount of responsibility towards the members. In such high position you need to be a mentor and a friend. You need to guide people and you need to be stable in making decisions over different things that challenge you. So, as much as I was honored, I knew what was waiting for me and what was expected.


It’s been two months since you were elected (This was asked in November,2017). What has changed or what are some new things that you have encountered?

Thank you for the question. What changed is that I have more responsibilities. First of all, I work closely with the IPSF President to ensure that the team is collaborating well in terms of delivery and training where necessary.

I have less personal time for myself but everything is achievable and manageable. Not much has changed except I receive very few emails from members asking different things about IPSF. Overall, everything is positive.

What is your best memory that you hold from your time with IPSF?

My best memory would be how people in IPSF work together. We exchange ideas, share knowledge and increase awareness about pharmacy. So it is the unity which I believe is my best memory as well as the IPSF events.


Petra, when you are free from IPSF Work, what do you like to do in your free time?

I usually enjoy reading books. I like to dance and have been dancing in folklore groups for around 20 years. I also like to talk with my friends, socialize, learn new things and do anything that links me with people.


Petra, at this WHSS you are quite friendly with people, sometimes ignoring VIP seats to be close to other people. This is different from many leaders who sometimes view themselves as bigger than those they serve. What pushes you to be so close to people?

So the people are the ones who are running the Federation. We are only serving them and if you don’t know what your members think about the organization and everything that is happening, then you can’t move forward properly. It’s really important to get feedback from the members, to talk to them and to motivate them. We are all in the same position as students and we need to support each other. We need to communicate and interact during such events and online meetings because members are of great value to the Federation and leaders are born from those members.

Petra what is your parting message to IPSF members?

The Federation can give you a lot, from personal development to professional development. It’s important to forget about boundaries and get involved even if you don’t have any experience. Even if you think you don’t have anything to say in the Federation, there will always be a place where you can learn from others.

We need to know that IPSF is really big. Learning about different cultures or how to communicate with people from different regions is something you cannot learn if you are not involved. By being involved and exposing yourself to different situations, ultimately you grow personally, you understand what people are thinking and what is happening in the pharmacy world. The biggest ideas have come from people discussing and exchanging knowledge and these opportunities are abundant in IPSF.

People in IPSF collaborate extensively and this is what one can look forward to. I would encourage everyone to be more involved in the Federation, in competitions, IPSF events, in committees and subcommittees or wherever you think you can find your place and show your talents. I am sure every pharmacy and pharmaceutical science student or recent graduate can find a place in the Federation.

Thank you for your time with us

Petra Orlić with with Regional Media and publications officer during interview. 

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