USI fill the gap and launch a Master in Medicine

LEADERSHIP INTERVIEW

We interviewed Mario Bianchetti, dean of Biomedical Sciences at USI

USI fill the gap and launch a Master in Medicine
Master in Medicine at USI to fill a gap. The project of the New USI East Campus.

USI fill the gap and launch a Master in Medicine

Master in Medicine at USI to fill a gap. The project of the New USI East Campus.

The new Master in Medicine has commenced at the Faculty of Biomedicine of the Università della Svizzera italiana. Ticino, in addition to already being a ‘lively’ research environment will be able to boast a course of study in medicine.

Can you share with us how the new Master in medicine came about and what was required to create it?

The Master was launched for a need in general in Switzerland. In our country there are currently about two thousand doctors retiring each year and we train around a thousand. There is obvious shortage. The Swiss Federation has decided to embark on an attempt to at least partially solve this problem - so a competition notice has been published. The University of Italian Switzerland participated and won - associating itself with three other universities: the University of Basel, the ETH of Zurich and the University of Zurich.

What is the current situation regarding coronavirus in Ticino?

We have had so many sick people, people know what coronavirus is and how dangerous it is. I myself have lost friends, so it is difficult for those who live in Ticino to trivialise the subject. As far as the medical faculty is concerned, we had some problems because it slowed down the work on the new campus, but luckily we were able to concentrate on the medical wing and so we started.

Who will be the recipients of this Master? Can you access it if you have a bachelor’s degree in medicine obtained in Switzerland - or is this open to students from abroad?

It can be accessed by anyone with a bachelor’s degree in medicine obtained in Switzerland, but also by those in possession of a Swiss passport or diploma and who studied medicine for three years, for example: in Italy if they have successfully passed their exams for primary studies. Obviously there are those who following the same example, do not have a Swiss maturity or passport despite having completed three years of medicine abroad cannot access. Alternatively students who have completed their medical course entirely abroad, in the EU for example, can be recognised as doctors and therefore do not need to study with us.

Why only a master’s course and not a bachelor’s?

Switzerland has published a competition notice to increase the number of students. As part of this evaluation, it was said that Ticino was able to train students during the second three years, while for the first three years it was preferred to join Basel and Zurich. So currently we do not offer the three years. We aim for this in the future. I think that in a few years we will perhaps be able to consider doing a bachelor’s degree in Ticino too.

What should motivate students choices to study medicine in Lugano? How is the training program carried out?

This was our concern during the preparation of the master. Swiss medical schools are quite prestigious in international rankings, so we tried to attract students to Ticino with very hands-on training and in small groups. 50 students started this year and only on Monday mornings they are all together, the rest of the week they spend in small groups of up to twenty. In addition, two days a week they work with doctors in the hospital or in the clinics of doctors in the canton and this is what attracts the students the most.

The master is held in English, but, with a view to on-the-job training, students must know Italian.

In Ticino most speak Italian, so these young people are asked to know the Italian language. Nevertheless, the important thing is to succeed in basic communication: I was trained fifty years ago in Bern, certainly no one ever nicknamed me Goethe, but I was still able to make myself understood. The students who are here are very enthusiastic about learning Italian, which is always a plus in a multilingual country like Switzerland, in fact on Monday evenings they take an Italian language course.

You are at the end of your tenure as dean. What legacy do you aim to leave to your successor - between certainties and challenges?

What I am giving to my successor is a group of professors who have worked with great enthusiasm during these three years of preparation. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I think that the conditions are the same, in particular we will have to build a good relationship with hospitals, in the hope that in some time they will be called university hospitals. So I deliver a very motivated deanery and work group. Other challenges, for example, could be the future creation of a bachelor’s degree in Ticino, which we have also mentioned before, and the possibility of establishing relations with neighbouring Italy, in particular with Lombardy.

Finally, are any important research projects within the faculty.

Yes, there are several. In reality our faculty is not a medical school, but it has been able to integrate a whole series of very lively research projects present in Ticino. For example, the Biomedicine Research Institute does 75% research on the coronavirus. In Ticino, research in the oncology field is also very important, at the Research Oncology Institute, where lymphoma, which is a very particular tumor, is studied very well. Ticino is also very good in cardiology, in fact excellent research is done in our Cardiocentro

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