Faces and stories of the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences: the Dean's office

(L to R) Claudia Wyss, Irene Menghini, Martina Vögele, Marco Bianchi, Solange Cingari, Lucie Bourban, Monica Link
(L to R) Claudia Wyss, Irene Menghini, Martina Vögele, Marco Bianchi, Solange Cingari, Lucie Bourban, Monica Link

Institutional Communication Service

14 September 2020

48 Master's students, 20 tenured professors, over 50 physicians involved in teaching and clinical practice - but also seven staff members responsible for the administration and the logistics of the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences. To complete the series of personal portraits of a few professors of the Faculty, now we discover those working 'behind the scenes'.

The Faculty Dean's office, directed by Prof. Mario Bianchetti >> www.usi.ch/en/feeds/13911 is includes also seven staff members who carry out those functions that are essential for the smooth running of the Faculty, such as the management of the Master's programme, the doctoral school, executive education, student relations, examinations, training in the clinic and logistics.

We start with Monica Link, the programme manager of the USI Master in Medicine, who knows the history of the Faculty very well, given her involvement in the feasibility project for its creation. "The Faculty of Biomedical Sciences began its activity in an office of about 15 square metres where the Founding Dean Mario Bianchetti and I worked side by side. Little by little the team expanded and so did the work spaces, moving to four offices on the fourth floor of the Main building of USI where the Faculty and its Dean's Office worked for five years. A few days ago, we moved our offices to the new East Campus in a section entirely reserved for the Faculty. Today we welcome the first Master's students, a dream come true".

The coordination of the Master's programme requires attention and committment - and so do the students. Solange Cingari tells us about her role as head of student affairs. "For current and future students, I am in charge of applications, admissions and enrolment, also collaborating with swissuniversities for the redistribution of students admitted according to the EMS admission test ranking. Perhaps not everyone knows that USI offers a Bachelor's of Medicine in collaboration with Universität Basel: our students attend courses in the city along the Rhine river as as guest-students".

At the end of the courses, students will test the acquired knowledge with exams, a crucial moment in their study path and which requires, in the specific case of medical studies, an organisation that goes beyond the classic sheet of paper with questions to answer. Irene Menghini explains how the Faculty's exam secretariat works. "Indeed, the exams sessions are crucial moment for students, but also a challenge for the organisational team. The Medicine examinations are divided into two parts: a written exam and a practice using simulated patients, which is something entirely new in Ticino. The organisation works thanks to a close-knit team made up of the examinations secretariat and the Professors and lecturers who are often solicited for questions, writing practical cases and training. To ensure that everything works optimally, many services and people are involved, including the IT department, the technical service, those who act as patients in the practical examinations, and their trainers at the Accademia Teatro Dimitri of SUPSI. Many challenges, deadlines, precision and punctuality, but with a winning and enthusiastic team, success is achieved!"

The Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at USI also offers its students the possibility to follow advanced study and research programmes at the PhD level. Lucie Bourban tells us about the various PhD programmes available. "Alongside the Master's degree, it is very exciting to see the growth of our Doctoral School, which today has more than 30 students. Thanks to the excellent cooperation with affiliated institutions and partners, our PhD programmes attract young researchers who are increasingly international".

The USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences offers also Executive education programmes. Martina Vögele is responsible for these and also for managing relations with one of the strategic partners of the Master in Medicine, ETH Zurich. "In cooperation with the University of Bern, a CAS, DAS and MAS in Sleep Medicine are already being offered, and other CAS projects are being developed for the future. For two years now, we have been organising a so-called "emergency training week" and a clinical week for third year Bachelor's students at ETH Zurich".

The activities on campus are supported by Marco Bianchi who, as head of logistics at the Faculty, has to manage not only the classrooms but also all the special features related to medical equipment. "My job entails collaboration and communication with all the professors and lecturers, to understand their needs so that we can offer optimal solutions. For me it is a great and new professional challenge, but I can count on the support of an excellent team, and together we will be able to put all the pieces in the right place".

Last, but not least, the central figure of the Dean's office, in addition to the Dean himself, is that of his executive assistant, who manages the various activities of the Deanery and also participates in the Faculty Council and the Council of Professors meetings. Claudia Wyss tells us about the challenges of this position. "Around a Faculty there are many activities, some more visible and others less so. But in all of them the Dean always has a central role, and when he moves, I am always behind him. Moreover, the relationship with the Professors, lecturers and clinical lecturers is also very important, and we must always remember that these figures are divided between academic activity and clinical or research activity, so we must always imagine possible unexpected events or delays".