Arstiteaduskond Eesti riigi taasiseseisvumise protsessis. Medical Faculty in the Process of Recreation of Estonian Republic

  • Lembit Allikmets
  • Ain-Elmar Kaasik


The paper gives a review of teaching medicine in the Soviet period
at the University of Tartu and brings forth the changes made in the
period of rebuilding the independent country. Already in the Soviet
time the Medical Faculty occupied a noteworthy place in the Estonian
public health-care system. However, in the autumn of 1944
the faculty started its work in very difficult conditions. Staffing the
faculty was a rather complicated task. The property of the faculty was
either destroyed or in a very damaged state. Nevertheless, the indispensable
structure was restored and, especially from 1960-s some
remarkable results in teaching and also in research were obtained.
Great assistance in the training of the new generation of the teaching
staff and scientists was rendered by medical scientists of the Medical Academy of the USSR. From 1960-s onward considerable number of
young staff members had even a possibility to work in different distinguished
centres abroad. It is worth to mention that most of the
students received state stipend and the life in the dormitories was
cheap. In the Soviet period young and ambitious students and also
young doctors were motivated to start academic career since the salaries
in the University were higher than in the general health-care
system. Among many problems were shamefully backward structure
and buildings, particularly in pre-clinical subdepartments, and also
great difficulties in the communication with the Western World. Nevertheless,
the faculty was able to maintain teaching medicine in Estonian.
The transition started from 1989. Tartu became an „open
city“, and we had many visitors from different countries. Despite
difficulties in newly independent Estonia the government invested
and in 1999 new Biomedicum was inaugurated. Hence, the preclinical
subdepartments were moved from their XIX century lodgings.
Another development was to unite in 1991 different public healthcare
institutions into the Tartu University Hospital. In the academic
year 1991/1992 the new curriculum was introduced. It followed all
European principles of teaching medicine. The same concerned postgraduate
programs. In 1993/1994 residency programs were approved
for all medical specialities. However, there are still several problems
which need attention. The loyalty to the profession somewhat
decreased, especially in the first years of transition. Due to remarkable
differences in salaries some young physicians preferred to work for
the pharmaceutical firms or moved abroad. The same concerns to
the academic career where years of hard work are considerably less
remunerated compared with the clinical practice.