History of the University

Michał Musielak
The history of Poznan University of Medical Sciences

Collegium MaiusA new chapter of the history of academic medicine in Poznań started after World War II, following the official takeover of power in Poland by communists in the year 1948. The political shift resulted in the change of the country’s socio-economic system and in the reorganization of the system of higher education. One of the consequences of those shifts and changes was the establishment of the Medical Academy on January 1st, 1950, renamed the Poznan Academy of Medicine (PAM) in March 1950. PAM was established as a school based on UOP’s Faculty of Medicine with its Section of Dentistry and the Faculty of Pharmacy when the two became independent from the University of Poznań. PAM’s first rector was Professor Tadeusz Kurkiewicz. The political authorities separated medicine from university studies. Along with clinical hospital wards, now academies of medicine became a part of the county’s health protection system and reported to the state authorities responsible for health protection.

Both internal and external factors had an impact upon PAM’s development between the years 1950 and 2018. In 1956 the development of the school was instigated by the “October political thaw” which resulted in the return to democratic procedures of electing the academic authorities. Professor Antoni Horst became then the new Rector of PAM. The decision for PAM to take over supervision over state clinical hospitals helped elevate the quality of medical education and intensify clinical research. Between 1956 and 1980, PAM was gradually developing its research as well as its clinical and teaching potential. One of the greatest achievements of the time was the establishment of a leading European Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Center in Poznań (PORC). Managed by Professor Wiktor Dega, PORC focused on combating polio and introduced modern methods of treatment and rehabilitation for disabled patients.

New centers concentrating on modern research were established at PAM in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Many of them, such as Electron Microscopy Center (1957), Isotope Center (1957), Artificial Kidney Center (1958), Dietary Center (1959), Parasite Diseases Center (1961), Occupational Rehabilitation Center (1968) and Hand Surgery Center (1969) were the first units of that type in the country. Teaching standards were improved at that time as well. On top of the already available medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, nursing was added as a new major and the Faculty of Nursing was established.

Thanks to PAM’s rectors, in particular thanks to Professor A.Horst, Professor W.Dega, Professor O. Szczepski, Professor W.Michałkiewicz and Professor R.Góral new land for further development of the PAM Campus has been acquired. In subsequent decades the area between Przybyszewskiego, Marcelińska, Polna and Bukowska streets was turned into a large construction site where future facilities of the Poznan University of Medical Sciences were built. Following a short period of academic freedom, the Polish United Workers Party started constraining it which brought about the development of social conflicts that saw its culmination in 1980 with the birth of the Independent Trade Union Solidarność.

Actions taken by Solidarność resulted in introducing democracy at Polish universities. After 20 years, now free, democratic elections of PAM authorities were organized. Professor Jerzy Wójtowicz was elected new rector and Professor Jacek Łuczak dean of the School of Medicine. PAM’s Senate adopted an important resolution on December 15th, 1981 naming PAM after Karol Marcinkowski, a famous Poznanian physician, social activist and patriot. Unfortunately, the imposition of Marshal Law in the country on December 13th, 1981 ended the autonomy of the school and the political and economic consequences of this act contributed to the slowdown of PAM’s development.

The year 1989 is one of the most important dates in the history of postwar Europe and particularly that of Poland, which was reborn as a sovereign state. At the very beginning of changes in the country taking place in 1989, PAM’s rector, Professor Antoni Pruszewicz and PAM authorities adopted principles of conducting a very active policy in the area of research, teaching and organization. One of the ways with which to accomplish the new goals was the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine II and the renaming of the existing Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Medicine I. The new Faculty of Medicine II along with the Section of Postgraduate Studies and the Section of Medical Studies in English was the first Faculty of Medicine in Poland offering medical studies in the English language in Poland. In 1998 the Faculty of Nursing was renamed the Faculty of Health Science. All these actions contributed to the improvement of PAM’s research and teaching quality and that in turn made it possible to transform PAM into the Poznań University of Medical Sciences (PUMS) on the basis of the new Law on Higher Education of February 27th, 2007. PAM was the first school of medicine in Poland to acquire its university status.

The last decade marks a very dynamic development of PUMS and places it among the best university schools of medicine in the country. The enrollment is nearly 8.000 including 1000 English language students coming from over 50 countries. PUMS has increased the number of courses it offers bringing it now to 22. Apart from classical medical studies in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or nursing, one may choose to study here obstetrics. physiotherapy, electro radiology, paramedicine, occupational therapy, analytics, cosmetology, dietetics, medical biotechnology and neurobiology. Our infrastructure has also developed. In 2004 the Collegium Stomatologicum building, a very beautiful architectural structure, was opened and in 2007 our new Main Library and the Congress Center started their operations. The Medical Biology Center was opened in 2014. On November 7th, 2018, the new Medical Simulation Center was opened. It was named after Professor Adam Wrzosek, who in 1920 opened medical studies in Poznań and became the first dean of the Faculty of Medicine. The event on November 7th, 2019 was symbolic since almost after 100 years, one of the creators of academic medicine in Poznań was commemorated.