My first-ever academic conference experience in Tromsø, Norway

Hi all! My name is Aliisa Niemelä and I am a freshly graduated M.Sc. (Pharm), also known as proviisori, from the University of Helsinki. I was delighted to receive a HiLIFE Conference Grant to participate in my first-ever academic conference in June 2023. I am here to tell you about my experience!

Tromsø, located in the beautiful Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle, is a scenic and historical city surrounded by the sea, fells and mountains. The scenery was breath-taking and unlike anything I’d ever seen before! I was thrilled.

The scenic view outside Tromsø Airport.

Did you know that Tromsø is often referred to as “Paris of the North”? This nickname speaks for itself – the city has a lively, historical and sophisticated atmosphere. But more importantly for us, the city is home to the world’s northernmost university, University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway. UiT is the only university in Norway to offer both three-year bachelor and two-year master programmes in Pharmacy, which are compliant with the Bologna Process.

7th – 9th of June 2023 UiT and the Department of Pharmacy hosted the 10th Nordic Social Pharmacy Conference (NSPC), a three-day event focusing on “Pharmacist services of tomorrow”. The Nordic Social Pharmacy Conference 2023 brought together researchers and practitioners from Nordic countries and all around the world, even all the way from the US. We discussed and learned about key topics concerning social pharmacy, pharmacy practice and pharmacoepidemiology. In my studies I have focused specifically on social and clinical pharmacy, so NSPC 2023 was an excellent event to deepen my knowledge and to network internationally in my field. The conference included plenary sessions, workshops, poster sessions, oral presentations and pre-conference master classes and was all about sharing experiences and ideas and learning from each other.

The conference had the warmest atmosphere and I felt so welcome to my first-ever conference. And it wasn’t all about sitting in auditoriums – we also enjoyed the nature while climbing up Sherpatrappa (1200 stairs) to Storsteinen mountain 421 meters above sea level. This might have been the most challenging part of the trip! 😀

View from Strosteinen after hiking up Sherpatrappa.

The highlight of the conference for me was getting the opportunity to share the findings of our own research and present our poster entitled “Developing clinical pharmacy expertise with a postgraduate pharmacy programme: Individual interviews with specializing pharmacists and their line-managers” in one of the poster sessions of the conference. This was a great experience for me and I am grateful for all the discussions around this topic.

I will cherish this experience for years to come and look forward to my next scientific conference! I want to thank my dear colleague Raisa Laaksonen, University of Helsinki and HiLIFE for the experience and support received!