Lithuanian University of the Health Sciences, Kaunas (Lithuania)
Problems with Medical Studies at the University of Lithuania (Vytautas Magnus University) in 1922–1940
At the beginning of the independence period 1918-1940, Lithuania lacked educated staff in all fields. A Statute of the Vilnius University was prepared and passed in December 1918. On 5 January 1919, the Bolsheviks occupied Vilnius and the Lithuanian government was forced to move to Kaunas. During the interwar war period, Kaunas was the capital of Lithuania. Students returned from Russia to independent Lithuania, but they had no opportunity to study. In 1920, the Medical Section of the Lithuanian Higher Courses officially started its activity, and in 1922 the University of Lithuania in Kaunas was formally established.
From the beginning, the medical faculty at the University of Lithuania faced numerous problems with space. Starting in 1922, the collaboration with the Health Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was quite successful: three clinical departments were housed at the Kaunas State Hospital. In 1924, the Clinic of Pediatric Diseases was housed in the Childrens State Hospital. In 1923, the Faculty made a legal agreement with the Lithuanian Red Cross Society that set specifications for university clinical activities at the Lithuanian Red Cross Society Hospital. However, communication with the Ministry of National Defense was not so successful.
The Faculty of Medicine also lacked teaching staff. Only a few Lithuanian physicians at that time had doctoral degrees. The Faculty Council had to invite foreign professors. Most of them did not stay long in Lithuania, did not learn Lithuanian and also were not able to create Lithuanian medical terminology. Shortly afterwards though, Lithuanians took the positions of many foreign professors.
The newly established Faculty of Medicine Council set up a study program. According to the Faculty Regula and study plans, during the first two years of studies medical students were taught mainly the natural sciences. During the third and fourth years, the basic subjects of clinical medicine were introduced, and were continued throughout the fifth year. However, in 1937, the study program became the subject of a sharp debate in the medical press. After finishing their degree work, the medical graduates had to complete a compulsory one-year practice at the university clinics.