Alumni stories: Katarzyna Gancarz
“I consider the possibility of combining my passion and skills acquired in my studies for a rewarding job experience and the motivation for continued work towards professional success. As I said, I am definitely a task-oriented person, so the possibility of having a real impact on those around me is what determines job satisfaction for me. I consider it a success if I am able to combine action with my passion for a foreign language. (...)”
Name and surname: Katarzyna Gancarz
Place of residence: Warsaw, Poland
Position: Communication specialist, manager of educational projects, medical translator
Degree subject: Pharmacy
- What is your best memory of studying at the Jagiellonian University?
Definitely a great atmosphere created by the staff of the Faculty of Pharmacy’s Department of Initial Pharmacological Research, where I wrote my Master’s thesis. Expert support provided by my supervisors, prof. dr hab. Jacek Sapa and Dr. Leszek Nowiński at every stage of the research was invaluable to me. I have very fond memories of that time.
- How did your career start? What were the turning points?
The possibility of participating in Erasmus, Erasmus + and SEP student exchange programmes were a major influence on my further career. The international contacts I’d made expanded my professional career and set it on the right course. As fate had it, during my first student exchange, some college friends and I got a training placement at a university hospital in Spain. I was in awe of my new-found role as a ward pharmacist in the hospital, overwhelmed with the duties and required skills, but also delighted with the equipment in the hospital pharmacy, while also becoming painfully aware of the shortcomings of Polish pharmacy. The pharmacy management and employees were open and friendly, and also willing to provide us with hands-on knowledge despite the language barrier (my Spanish was very basic at that time). As a result, I was sorry to leave and wishing I could come back one day. A year later, thanks to the Erasmus + program, I joined the hospital pharmacy team again to observe the implemented solutions and polish my language skills.
I came back to Poland with an idea for a new international Polish-Spanish project for pharmacists, which turned out to be a success thanks in large part to support from the President of the Pharmaceutical Council, the President of the Spanish Society of Hospital Pharmacists (SEFH) and financial partners – companies from the pharmaceutical sector.
Student internships have certainly taught me to be independent and meticulous. They also made me realize that the work of a pharmacist in a hospital may look completely different to what I knew back home. In this case, “different” means better. Internships open your mind and broaden your horizons. I think that my career path would have been completely different if it were not for the opportunities I had in college.
- How has your education contributed to your career development?
Pharmacy is a field of science that is constantly evolving, which is why pharmaceutical studies require the future graduates to constantly expand their knowledge and practical skills, which should then be shared with patients. In my case, the additional knowledge of Spanish also allows me to work in the field of medical translation, and my task-oriented nature means that I dive into new, interesting and ambitious projects with passion and commitment.
- Tell us about your current job. What are you doing now?
I work in the Supreme Pharmaceutical Chamber (NIA)’s press office as a communication specialist. My duties include helping with the preparation of social and educational campaigns by pharmaceutical trade union in cooperation with state institutions, including: the National Health Fund or pharmaceutical companies. I also host debates and press briefings, maintain contacts with representatives of the industry media and ensure the high quality of media communications coming from the union. I am not afraid of professional challenges – of course, as long as I see them as potential development opportunities and a factor in bringing about a better professional reality for pharmacists. One of the recent projects of this type, carried out jointly with the NIA team, is WebinarNIA – an educational platform dedicated to pharmacists, whose goal is to provide reliable and up-to-date industry-specific knowledge, useful in everyday practice. Foreign internships at the Faculty of Pharmacy have certainly shaped my professional future. When I finished college, I knew that not all my colleagues had such an opportunity for various reasons, and for professionally active pharmacists a few years ago, this kind of job training was practically unavailable. Thanks to the sympathy of several people in Poland and Spain for the envisioned project and the trust they have in me, we have successfully filled this gap. For over 4 years I have been managing an international internship programme for pharmacists at the Supreme Chamber of Pharmacists, which enables them to visit standard-setting university hospitals on the Iberian Peninsula. The aim of the programme is to expand practical knowledge in the field of hospital and clinical pharmacy. So far, a dozen or so pharmacists have benefited from the postings, and when they return to Poland, they implement in their workplace the solutions observed in Spain. This is our great joint success. I also pursue my professional goals as a medical translator in the Spanish-Polish language combination. The job gives me a lot of satisfaction because it allows me to combine my education with my passion, which is the Spanish language.
Zdjęcie ze zbiorów własnych absolwentki.
- What are your biggest challenges right now?
Starting October, I will be again a student of the Jagiellonian University, which I certainly see as a new, exciting professional challenge, especially since the faculty I will study at is not a medical unit. I must admit that I am already looking forward to the first classes.
What is life and work like in the city/country where you live?
Warsaw is a quite demanding city job-wise, but also offers many opportunities at the same time. If the opportunity is used wisely to force open what would seem like a closed door, the goal is suddenly within reach. Determination and consistency in your actions are very important. I take the Warsaw lifestyle with a pinch of salt and I am happy when I return to my home, Sandomierz.
- What is your definition of success?
I consider the possibility of combining my passion and skills acquired in my studies for a rewarding job experience and the motivation for continued work towards professional success. As I said, I am definitely a task-oriented person, so the possibility of having a real impact on those around me is what determines job satisfaction for me. I consider it a success if I am able to combine action with my passion for a foreign language.”
- What advice/guidance do you have for current students who are just entering the job market?
Don't be afraid of challenges. Be determined and persistent in your actions. Believe in your strength. Take advantage of internship programmes – this is the best way to get to know the job market and yourself.
- How do you imagine cooperation between the Jagiellonian University and its graduates?
Supporting graduates in their job-seeking, mentoring programmes, organizing job fairs, posting customized job adverts.