Competences for future leaders in the health sector

EHCL Programme Coordinator Rolf Heusser and two EHCL (Emerging Health Care Leaders) talk about the programme and their experiences.

  • "Support programme for talented young researchers".

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    Interview with Rolf Heusser, EHCL Programme Coordinator

    Rolf Heusser, what are the goals of the EHCL programme?

    On the one hand, to build a strong community in the field of health services research, which offers internationally competitive top-level research in the field of "Health Service Research". On the other hand, the programme enables EHCL to acquire skills and competences to find their way in the modern health care system. And they should be able to enter into a dialogue with representatives from politics, practice and society.

    What has been done to achieve the goals?

    During about 35 events and social gatherings, the "EHCL Scholars" were able to get to know and appreciate each other. They started and carried out projects together; organised events, produced publications, wrote research proposals. The courses were geared towards concrete learning outcomes, they were organised in a participatory way and were oriented towards the needs of the researchers.

    Were the goals achieved?

    From my point of view, they were achieved very well. The EHCL community that has been built is alive, driven by the enthusiasm and great intrinsic motivation of the participants.

    What is the next step?

    To continue and nurture the research community. The community should be complemented by other researchers and representatives of politics, practice, and the patient community. The skills training should be continued and offered to the new leaders in health care. All the findings of the programme can be transferred to other topics in the public health sector; corresponding networks and joint platforms (e.g. with the Swiss School of Public Health) should be sought.

  • «It was very useful to see what paths you can take after the Ph.D.»

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    Interview with EHCL Reka Schweighoffer and Michael Deml

    Reka Schweighoffer, Michael Deml, what did you gain from participating in the EHCL programme - professionally and personally?

    Reka: For me, the support from the EHCL programme was a huge motivation to finish the PhD. For my working and professional life, the many soft skills trainings have helped me a lot. It is also very valuable to meet so many people and to make friendships that continue.

    Michael: I've seen with other PhD students that studying can be a very isolating, lonely experience. Thanks to the EHCL program, this wasn’t the case for me. I was very integrated into a community of researchers right from the start. The personal aspect was very valuable, being with people with whom you can enjoy and celebrate successes together.

    What was the highlight for you?

    Reka: The three retreats in Murten, Magglingen and Montreux. It was a great experience to be together with doctoral students who have similar experiences for three days and to get to know them better that way. Another highlight was the life-lessons, where experienced people presented their life in research. It was very useful to see what paths you can take after the PhD., to get tips on how to become successful, overcome hurdles, and to hear that you are allowed to make mistakes.

    Michael: One retreat was about CV writing and applying for support, especially for research abroad after the PhD. I had never thought about postdoctoral mobility before this retreat, but after that I applied for a grant from the SNSF, and thanks to that I am in South Africa today.

    What new skills and competences did you acquire?

    Michael: The media training was really good. Journalists interviewed us and familiarized us with various scenarios. We were able to practice many things and we got specific tips and feedback from the professionals. Other workshops and sessions, for example on project management, but also a visit to the parliament in Bern with the opportunity to discuss with politicians, were major highlights.

    Reka: I can only agree with that. I, too, have benefited greatly from the support by the SNSF. At the University of Basel, I received a scholarship for the time after my PhD., which would not have been so easy without this training.

    How did you collaborate with other EHCL members?

    Michael: The EHCL program brought us together at the retreats where we worked with others and learned from each other. I worked particularly closely with Katharina Tabea Jungo from the University of Bern. We planned and conducted an entire research project with support from NRP74 early career incentive funding. We also worked together on the synthesis paper that summarises the results of the EHCL programme on patient participation.

    Reka: I am working on a project led by EHCL colleague Yael Rachamin on the topic of mental health service utilisation during the Covid 19 pandemic. We are currently writing a paper on this, which we hope to publish towards the end of the year.

    What do you wish for the EHCL community in the future?

    Michael: I would love for the EHCL community to continue. I hope we can keep it going with an alumni association and meet again.

    Reka: For me, too, alumni meetings would be great, maybe an online network, more collaborations, joint research projects. To keep this network going would be great.

    What are your immediate and further career plans?

    Michael: I am just finishing my postdoc mobility at the University of Cape Town and will return to Switzerland in February 2023. I am currently applying for funding to research vaccination programmes, including monkeypox. In the longer term, I hope to make the leap to a professorship at a university. I would like to focus on vaccination, prevention, and infectious diseases.

    Reka: I work as a postdoc at the University of Basel and the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, both in applied research projects. In Basel, I am doing research with my own grant, on the prevention of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. I would like to continue this project, for which I am looking for additional funding. In the longer term, I can imagine taking a position as a grant manager at a university because I am interested in the topic of research funding. But I would also like to stay in research, at least part-time.

Reka Schweighoffer

Reka Schweighoffer currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Basel and the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland. As part of the NRP74, Reka was a doctoral student in project no. 16 on collaboration and coordination in palliative care networks in Switzerland under the lead of Prof. Brigitte Liebig (2017-2021).

Reka Schweighoffer

Michael Deml

Michael Deml is currently a Swiss National Science Foundation Early.Postdoc Mobility Visiting Fellow at the University of Cape Town where he is studying the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in South Africa. As part of the NRP74, he conducted mixed-methods research in Prof. Dr. med. Philip Tarr's project (no. 28) on vaccine hesitancy and under-immunization in Switzerland (2017-2021).

Michael Deml

Rolf Heusser

Rolf Heusser has a medical and public health background. Currently he is acting as Head of the «Emerging Health Care Leaders Program». This support program for talented young researchers is an integral part of the NRP 74 «Smarter Health Care». Rolf Heusser is a member of the NRP 74 core team and in this function he is participating in all meetings of the NRP 74 steering committee.

Rolf Heusser