Beginning of Medical Education at Nankai University

The founder of Nankai University, Mr. Zhang Boling first planned to initiate medical education in this University before he started the premed program and the preparatory group of medical school. In 1952, the first class of students from Tianjin Medical College (now known as Tianjin Medical University) attended the premed program at Nankai University. In 1980, proposed by Professor Yang Shixian (former president of Nankai University), Professor Zhu Xianyi (former president of Tianjin Medical University) and Professor Wu Daren (former president of Nankai University), the eight-year program in clinical medicine was jointly launched by both universities (3-year premed education at Nankai University and 5-year medical education at Tianjin Medical University). Meanwhile, the three professors submitted proposals in the National People’s Congress about integrating scientific and medical education. Since 1983, the eight-year program was replaced by the seven-year program due to the medical education reform. Nankai University continued to provide premed education (in the first two years) for Tianjin Medical University, Harbin Medical University, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Hebei Medical University, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

By 1988, Nankai University held several seminars attended by some famous medical experts in China to discuss the integration of scientific and medical education. To relieve the shortage of high-level medical talents in China, attendants proposed that Nankai University should start a seven-year program in clinical medicine with cooperating hospitals. This can fully utilize the multidisciplinary advantage of Nankai University to train high-level medical talents with both clinical and research abilities.

Attendants reached a consensus that the development of China’s healthcare requires the participation of comprehensive universities. Therefore, it was a far-sighted, strategic and pioneering decision to start medical education at Nankai University.

Launching of School of Medicine, Nankai University

In 1988, the preparatory group of School of Medicine was officially organized in the Fifth Teaching Building at Nankai University. The group worked out the preliminary plan of starting the medical school, including the basic guidelines, educational systems, teaching plans, experiment arrangement etc. After negotiation, the PLA 254 Hospital became the affiliated hospital of the School of Medicine, Nankai University, while the Institute of Hematology and Blood Diseases Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and Tianjin Cancer Hospital became our teaching hospitals. Professor Chen Wenjie, an expert in physiopathology and hematology, was named the first dean.

In 1989, the first medical students were enrolled by the School of Medicine, Nankai University based on our effective work. Carrying the hope from different aspects, the School of Medicine, Nankai University set its first milestone.

Unremitting efforts in adversity

Although Nankai University had a few advantages to start the School of Medicine, there were still a number of obstacles as we had to start from nothing and face problems including the lack of teaching space, laboratories, books and literature materials, teachers etc.

Despite all the obstacles, our faculties had been working enthusiastically to realize their dreams. Although the budget was limited, they still established laboratories with basic teaching devices and textbooks for basic medical sciences (BMS) including human anatomy, pathologic anatomy, medical microbiology, medical immunology, medical molecular biology etc. Our cooperating hospitals also provided students with clinical laboratories, teaching equipment and internship bases for academic exchanges and communications. Some professors said that they would teach our students for free because they had such a broad range of knowledge and good comprehension in natural sciences. Sometimes, professors even had to increase their teaching amount and difficulty for our students.

Our faculties had been making continuous and enthusiastic efforts to improve the teaching plans for our hardworking students. “To make our School better and distinctive”, that was the common wish of our teachers and students at that time

Our unyielding efforts were finally recognized by the former National Committee of Education in 1993 while the School of Medicine, Nankai University was officially established on October 16, 1993.

To make our School distinctive

Thanks to Nankai University’s foundation in natural sciences and humanities, the School of Medicine was founded with some unique advantages. The College of Life Sciences, School of Chemistry, College of Physics, School of Chinese Literature, School of Social Sciences, School of Foreign Languages at Nankai University have provided abundant educational resources and created a multidisciplinary academic atmosphere for our medical students.

The joint medical education is an outstanding feature of the School of Medicine, Nankai University. Based on our cooperation with the PLA 254 Hospital, Institute of Hematology and Blood Diseases Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Tianjin Cancer Hospital, we further established collaborations with the Tianjin First Center Hospital, Tianjin Children’s Hospital, Tianjin Chest Hospital, Tianjin Dental Hospital, Tianjin Renmin Hospital and Tianjin Eye Hospital thanks to the effort of our second dean, Professor Zhu Tianhui, who was the delegate of the National People’s Congress and an expert in medical genetics. Those hospitals in different specialties, with well-equipped clinical and research laboratories and world-famous medical experts, created great opportunities for our students to experience different types of medical practice during their internship, which laid a solid foundation for their future careers.

In 2007, Nankai University and the PLA General Hospital signed the Strategic Cooperating Agreement at the Great Hall of People in Beijing to start the comprehensive joint medical education. From 2008, students enrolled in our seven-year program were able to complete their postgraduate study (sixth and seventh year) in the PLA General Hospital. Later, postgraduate students in the three-year medical program also gained the opportunity to be enrolled in the joint programs. Until now, our joint postgraduate programs have altogether trained 550 graduates while there are now about 220 students studying at the PLA General Hospital. Our cooperation has significantly improved the professional ability and clinical skills of Nankai medical students.

Supported by Nankai University, the hardware environment of the School of Medicine has been tremendously enhanced. The University first funded about 10 million yuan for the renewal of the Siyuan Temple, where the medical school is located. In 2015, the new building for the School of Medicine was completed in Jinnan campus, which created new opportunities for our School. There are nine BMS teaching laboratories, together with the multi-media lecture rooms, the virtual simulation laboratory and some other networked teaching devices in this new building, which was designed for modern medical experiment teaching. The total BMS teaching space has reached 1852 m2, and there are about 1000 experiment-teaching devices worth over 18 million yuan in this new building.

We have also witnessed the rapid development in research. The School has established several high-level research platforms, and undertaken some state-level major research projects including the 973 Project, 863 Project, Key Project of the National Natural Science Foundation, State International S&T Cooperation Program etc. Meanwhile, we have organized a research team in a reasonable scale, including 12 professors, 22 associate professors, 18 assistant professors and 19 technicians. Among them, there are one 973 Project Chief Scientist, three New Century Talents (supported by the Ministry of Education). We have also hired 98 doctoral tutors and over 150 master tutors from our cooperating hospitals, including 4 members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences/ Chinese Academy of Engineering.

We have achieved fruitful results at the School of Medicine, Nankai University. The enrollment scale of our School has been expanded from only 15 to 837 now, including both undergraduate and postgraduate students. There have been a total of 620 graduates from 20 classes under the seven-year program, 265 graduates from 14 classes under the three-year master’s program, 126 graduates from 5 classes under the three-year Ph.D. program, and 49 graduates from 3 classes under the five-year dental program. Some of our graduates have been employed by some top hospitals in China despite the fierce competition in the medical job market.

Obstacles conquered and achievements gained all belong to yesterday. We believe that the School of Medicine, Nankai University will have a brighter tomorrow.