The USI Master in Medicine takes center stage

The official welcome speeches at the CST in Tenero (image: Ti-Press)
The official welcome speeches at the CST in Tenero (image: Ti-Press)
Among the students, from left, Luigi Mariani, Mario Bianchetti, Boas Erez e Manuele Bertoli
Among the students, from left, Luigi Mariani, Mario Bianchetti, Boas Erez e Manuele Bertoli

Institutional Communication Service

14 September 2020

The new academic year 2020-21 kicks off with one of the key projects for USI and the Italian-speaking part Switzerland: the Master in Medicine, a three-year clinical training programme for students with a Bachelor's degree. The official inauguration ceremony, held this morning at the National Youth Sports Centre in Tenero (CST), was opened with keynote speeches by the Councillor of State and Director of DECS Manuele Bertoli, the Rector of USI Boas Erez, Luigi Mariani (member of the EOC Board of Directors), and the Faculty Dean Mario Bianchetti.

48 students - mainly from the partner universities ETH Zurich and the University of Basel - are enrolled in the USI Master in Medicine. They will start the semester 'extra muros' at the CST in Tenero, where they will take part in a series of 'team building' activities, patient communication courses and other introductory activities. Then, on Thursday, the students will join the new East Campus in Lugano where they will continue with a special 'onboarding' programme which, over a two-week period, will see them in class, including interprofessional courses with SUPSI nursing students, and in activities that will allow them to familiarise with the cantonal healthcare system - including Italian language lessons, which are especially useful for communication with patients.



State Councillor and Director of DECS Manuele Bertoli says, "The first feasibility studies for the creation of a Master's course in Human Medicine at USI began in 2009 and, as recalled in the government dispatch of March 2014 acknowledging the new Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, the project consistently followed the constant progress of Ticino's hospital facilities, as well as the research entities of great value such as the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) and the Institute of Oncology Research (IOR). Today we can say, with satisfaction, that associating our hospital system with a university Faculty is an excellent guarantee that we will have the leading edge medicine at the service of the entire community and that we will be able to attract leading specialists, both doctors and university professors, to Ticino".

Luigi Mariani, member of the Board of Directors of the Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale (EOC), comments: "With the clinical training of these young future doctors, much of which will be performed "at the patient's bedside" and under the attentive guidance of experienced doctors active in our hospitals, the EOC will contribute even more than it has done so far to addressing the urgent need for highly qualified doctors that our country will need in the coming decades. The EOC is therefore taking on a task that was previously reserved for "traditional" university hospitals. Medicine is evolving more and more rapidly under a worldwide scientific impulse. Young "brains" are the engines of change, innovation and progress. When they arrive at USI and EOC Hospitals, these young people will be able to count on the high-quality training acquired at Swiss universities during their three-year Bachelor's degree, including the particularly innovative programme offered at ETH Zurich, one of the world's leading universities. These young people will "fertilise" our clinical departments with their human and scientific contribution. The positive impact on our healthcare facilities, our medical culture, and thus also on our civil society, will be felt, to the benefit of all. Certainly, accepting and integrating these students will cost energy and sacrifice on the part of our staff and will also put our facilities under pressure. However, the EOC has been well prepared over the last few years, we are therefore extremely confident. Thanks to the enthusiasm that characterises the start of a project of this magnitude we will also be able to cope with the difficulties that will undoubtedly arise along the way".

The Rector of USI Boas Erez says, "I would like to thank the many partners involved in the creation of the Master in Medicine: it is above all thanks to the ability to network with a shared objective that the project is a reality today. I am particularly happy to welcome these students who are about to embark on a study path that will lead them to a profession - the medical one - that is fundamental for our society. From what I have been able to observe, there is a great desire to do and to commit: I have the impression that we can learn a lot from them".

The Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences Mario Bianchetti: "With the Master's Degree in Medicine, USI will give a new 'colour' to medicine in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, helping it to grow and give it a breath closer to inner Switzerland and Lombardy".


The Master's

The USI Master in Medicine runs over a period of three years and is based on an integrated training model that allows the achievement of the objectives of the new Swiss training standard called PROFILES, an acronym that stands for Principal Relevant Objectives and Framework for Integrative Learning and Education in Switzerland. These objectives - which will be adopted throughout Switzerland but which for the moment only USI offers - involve transversal training throughout the duration of the Master's curriculum, for example, in clinical situations, public health teaching and in the field of ethics. The Master's degree is designed to link disciplines and also to foster new learning methods and, more generally, a higher level of medical training. The Master's curriculum will see students both in the classroom for theoretical courses and in the canton's clinics and hospitals for practice at the patient's bedside. The study programme also includes the possibility of 'customising' their curriculum, with the offer of elective courses and the choice of clinical cases to follow and study in depth. Furthermore, research is fully integrated into the training modules and students will have the opportunity to explore it further in their thesis work. Finally, in the third year students who wish to do so will be able to start a PhD programme.


A few figures

Over the next three years, the first cohort of 48 students will be lectured by 20 tenured professors, including 9 EOC medical professors who - according to the agreement between USI and EOC - are engaged part-time in training. In addition to these, the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences has 50 physicians with academic qualifications who collaborate in teaching. In addition, 25 physicians will follow the students in practice at the patient's bedside in hospitals and clinics, and at least 25 general practitioners will be involved in the training from the fourth semester (second year).  

The weekly schedule of the courses alternates between theory and practice, with 8 hours dedicated to the former (and another 2 hours for elective subjects), 2 days dedicated to patient bed training, which include writing one's own portfolio of clinical cases and 4 hours of discussions on them and practical exercises related to the topics covered in the patient's bed training or as part of the courses. Finally, there are 2 half days dedicated to individual study. For more information on the Master >>


Beyond the Master's

At its latest plenary meeting, the Council of the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences appointed Giovanni Pedrazzini as the new Dean for the two-year period 2021-2022. He will be joined by Greta Guarda (Vice Dean for Research) and Luca Gabutti (Vice Dean for Education). The new Deanery of the Faculty will take office on 1 January 2021, succeeding the first Dean of the Faculty, Mario Bianchetti.

The Faculty of Biomedical Sciences of USI has already awarded 43 diplomas: 29 Doctor of Medicine (Dr. med.), 14 Bachelor's degrees (studies at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Basel).

In parallel with the start of the Master's programme, the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences is organising for the second time, from 14 to 18 September, the so-called "Notfallwoche", a week of training dedicated to emergency medicine for ETH Zurich students in their 3rd year of Bachelor's degree in Medicine, who will thus have not only a training in the field but also a first "taste" of the Ticino context and the cantonal health system.

On 9 October, on the other hand, the second edition of the "PhD Day" will be held, the study day dedicated to medical students who are doing their PhD. USI currently has 31 students enrolled at the doctoral school, three of whom are preparing to graduate with a "Ph.D. in biomedical sciences" diploma (and related specialisations) between next winter and summer.


RSI, Il Quotidiano, September 14, 2020 (in Italian)