The short history of (medical) university education and
the Society of Laboratory Medicine in Hungary
In the 1000-year-old historical Hungary, our kings established universities in Veszprém (1185), Pécs (1367), Óbuda (1410) and Pozsony (1465). These universities did not go beyond the level of „studium generale”, were destroyed in the turmoil of history before medical education could have been started. The lack of medical doctors in the Medieval Hungary was alleviated by priest monk doctors educated abroad. The first Hungarian university, which has been working without disruption since its establishment, is the University of Nagyszombat (now in Slovakia). Its medical school started medical education and patient care in 1769/1770. The university was first moved to Buda in 1777, then to Pest in 1784. Later it was named as Péter Pázmány University, and its medical school became the Semmelweis University of Budapest. Those universities established between 1910 and 1930 in Debrecen, Pécs and Szeged have had medical schools since their foundation. Before 1910, medical students in Budapest received only a short introduction to clinical laboratory diagnostics during the course named „Chemistry of Life and Disease”.
The Hungarian Society of Laboratory Medicine (HSLM) was established by Prof. Péter Bálint in Budapest in 1946. Before the foundation of the Society, there were no organized laboratory services in the country, and only a few laboratories were active in the basement of certain hospitals. The first clinical lab was founded in the 19th century by Prof. Pál Plósz, who translated the 3rd edition of the Hoppe-Seylers book, which was the first available clinical chemistry scientific book in Hungarian. His main field of interest was the analysis of proteins in serum and urine, the detection of iron and urea in blood samples, the Trommer assay, and polarimetric analysis. Prof. Pál Plósz laid down the grounds of clinical chemistry of our times.
The professional training program of clinical chemistry was initiated and developed by several professors of the Medical School of Péter Pázmány University in Budapest and pathologist consultants of leading hospitals after the end of the World War II. They established the specialty of Clinical Laboratory Medicine and organized the Society. Initially, pharmacy and medical graduates were trained in the theory and practice of clinical chemistry, hematology and microbiology for 3 years at laboratories of medical schools. From 1951, they could take the state examination to become qualified specialists of clinical laboratory medicine. Nowadays, the residency program for general physicians and pharmacists in clinical laboratory diagnostics is 5 years long, and has a polyvalent character. Further specialist qualifications of 2 years can be gained in the fields of hematology and immunology, or molecular diagnostics. From 2006, non-medical graduates (biologists, chemists, molecular biologists, clinical laboratory scientists) can take part in a 4-year-long, complex, disease-oriented training, followed by a specialist exam in clinical biochemistry. This exam certifies their status as specialists in clinical biochemistry. Training of undergraduate medical students in clinical chemistry (now termed laboratory medicine) was started only in 1980 in Hungary. In the present days, there are four departments of Laboratory Medicine at the four medical schools, which are primarily involved in the undergraduate education of laboratory medicine.