The official foundation date of the Faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University (founded in 1579 on the basis of the Jesuit College founded in 1570) is the 24 of November, 1781, when the rector of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania High School (the official name of the University at that time) Marcin Poczobutt announced the establishment of the medicine department in his opening speech at the beginning of the academic year.
The University went under the jurisdiction of the Educational Commission and became partly secular.
Foreigners were educated by local professors, academicians and contributed very much to the fame of the Faculty of Medicine by obtaining Europe-wide recognition.
The Faculty of Medicine was famous for its clinics of therapy (since 1805), surgery (since 1809), obstetrics (since 1812), institutes of vaccination (since 1808) and maternity (since 1809), other scientific, educational institutions and social activities.
In 1805, professors of the Faculty established a medical society in Vilnius.
The calm period of the Faculty of Medicine was interrupted by the November Uprising of the years 1830–1831. The University students and professors took an active part in this Uprising, teherefore, in 1832 Tsar Nicholas I closed Vilnius University and in 1842 the Medical and Surgical Academy which had been functioning instead of the Faculty of Medicine.
During the interwar period, Vilnius had the Polish Stephen Bathory University which, unfortunately, did not serve Lithuanian culture. However, some of the emeriti of the Faculty of Medicine of that time are important for us today.
In 1919–1939, Vilnius had the largest craniological collection in Europe and significantly complemented to the collection of the Museum of Pathology.
In 1931, they established the Institute of Oncology.
Prof. M. Reicher’s studies on the Crimean Karaites (1933) helped to preserve this national minority from extermination during Nazi occupation.
On the 10 of October, 1939, Lithuania regained its historical capital Vilnius and began to revive Vilnius University.
On 31 July 1940, Vilnius University Senate delegated to Professor V. Kuzma to set up a commission of reviving the Faculty of Medicine.
The commission first decided to establish the medical and pharmaceutical departments of the Faculty of Mathematics and Nature, and this decision was approved by the Senate.
As many as 174 students were enrolled into the medical department and 99 students to the pharmaceutical department. In 1942, the dental department was established.
In 1942, Assoc. Prof. P. Kazlauskas was appointed the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dr. S. Čepulis was nominated the head of the dental department and Prof. B. Šiaulys was designated as the head of the pharmaceutical department.
Also, for the academic year 1943/1944, new students were secretly enrolled into all departments of the faculty.
In midsummer of the year 1944 Nazis retreated, and for the second time the country was occupied by the Red Army; the second Soviet occupation began, followed by the physical, spiritual and cultural genocide of the Lithuanian nation. Everything had to be started anew.
On the 13 of November, 1944, the People’s Commissars Council of the Lithuanian SSR issued the order “On the renewal of higher school activities in the Lithuanian SSR” according to which Vilnius University had the Faculty of Medicine among others, with all departments.
The Faculty of Medicine gradually became a typical Soviet school with mandatory political and ideological subjects and Russian language groups; curricula and teaching plans were imposed from Moscow and textbooks were based on the Soviet ideology. This nightmare lasted until Joseph Stalin’s death. Then, some opportunities for reform and progress opened up, in particular in the late fifties and sixties.
In 1959, the Faculty of Medicine was complemented with an evening department of pediatrics; in 1964 it became a full-time department and from 1962 began the education of hygiene doctors. In 1971, the internship was established.
After the restoration of Lithuania’s independence on 11 March 1990, the formerly imposed forms of training and education were gradually updated. The substantial changes in the faculty were based on independent Lithuania’s pre-war traditions and the experience of modern Western European countries, in particular Scandinavia and the U.S. Clinics were established to unite the treatment activities and studies. Of course, the structure of the Faculty of Medicine is changing in order to meet the new challenges, needs and tasks. In 1990, the residency was established. In 1990, the faculties of Medicine and Doctor Retraining were merged again. A significant break took place in the first half of 2002 with a radical structural reform of units, enabling an efficient utilisation of the creative potential and maintaining the competitive spirit.
The community of the Faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University fosters long-standing and distinctive traditions. The faculty has the flag, the emblem and the dean’s toga of its own. The Faculty’s history museum accumulates documentary and iconographic material. However, the honourable history is no longer the foundation to ensure peaceful and satisfying well-being. The immediate tasks of the Faculty include the strategic long-term plans of international relations, studies, developing research, scientific and economic activities, which must be based on the Statute of Vilnius University. It is necessary to revise its structure and promote the programs of studies, using the EU structural funds appropriately. Among the most pressing challenges the faculty is facing today is the improvement of the quality of education, development and modernization of the existing and creation of new programmes, improvement of the qualification of lecturers, modernization of the educational process (by equipping modern simulator, computer classes, etc.) encouraging student’s creative thinking in solving scientific problems and applying the results of research work for contemporary needs, developing and modernizing the University hospitals.
The Charter of the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Vladislaus IV Vasa,
permitting the Vilnius Academy to Teach the Canon and Civil Laws and Medicine;
issued in Warsaw on 11 October 1641
Currently, the Faculty of Medicine is one of the largest and most significant universities in Vilnius. It has four large Institutes which, in their internal structure, combine smaller departments, clinics, centers, departments and laboratories. The Faculty also has computer classes, a Library, and a Museum.
Students of the Faculty of Medicine, residents and doctoral students also use different training bases of Vilnius University, research institutes and public and private personal and public health care institutions.
The main training bases are:
- Vilnius University Hospital Santaros Clinics and its branches:
- Vilnius University Hospital Žalgiris Clinic
- Vilnius University Hospital
- Vilnius City Clinical Hospital
- Vilnius University Antakalnis Hospital
- Vilnius City Center Polyclinic and others.
The Faculty of Medicine employs about 800 members of pedagogical, scientific and support staff: 74 professors, 124 associate professors, 192 lecturers, about 120 researchers and others.
Between 1965 and 2015, over 80 faculty members became winners of the Lithuanian Science Prize and have been awarded other titles. The Faculty’s academic youth is also active: over 3200 students study in integrated, undergraduate and postgraduate studies, total number of residents is 600, and nearly 100 doctoral students study in various fields of medical science. There are also over 130 students from foreign countries: Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Israel, Poland, Italy, Singapore and other countries currently studying at the Faculty. The number of foreign students is increasing every year.
For many years now, the community of the Faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University has cherished its own traditions. The Faculty has its own flag, emblem and toga of the dean. The Museum of History of Medicine collects documentary and iconographic material. But honorable history is not the only basis for peaceful and prosperous present and future.
Action Plan 2019-2021
Structure of the Faculty of Medicine, 2019.