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Riga First Medical College of the University of Latvia (also referred to as LU Riga First Medical College) is a medical education institution with a stable position in the Latvian higher and professional secondary education system. The history of the College dates back to 1902. So, the College traditions and the foundation of professional development have been forming for more than a hundred years - since 1902. The College is recognizable not only in Latvia, but also internationally. All study programs implemented at the College have been accredited. The most recent international accreditation, which was conducted by foreign and Latvian experts, has assigned the highest assessment category to the study field “Health Care”. Since 1 July 2019 the College has continued to exist as the agency of the University of Latvia “Riga First Medical College of the University of Latvia”, which is a significant benefit for the students and academic staff of our educational institution, which has been made possible thanks to the College integration into the academic environment of the University of Latvia.
Beginning. The first information that appeared about our educational institution dates back to 1902. With the passage of time, our education institution acquired the name of Riga Midwifery School (1924-1945), which was approved by the Riga City Council.
First location. In 1902 and immediately in the aftermath of its establishment, the Midwifery School, the new School, did not yet have its own separate building. The basement rooms which were located in Riga First Hospital under the Maternity Ward were used for training.
First graduates. It is known that 9 students graduated from the School in 1902, however, in 1904 there were already 42 graduates. The board meeting minutes No.8 of Riga First Hospital of 3 October 1902 contain information on the number of candidates and the acceptance rate at the time, specifically, 100 candidates applied for studies, but only 11 candidates were admitted.
Development. The development has proceeded in relevance to time. Despite the two world wars and various political crises, the School managed to adapt and survive throughout time by reducing operations on occasion and by expanding operations on occasion. For example, in 1929 there was passed a decision to extend the study duration to two years because of the need to expand the study program so that student midwives could receive better training and a higher qualification upon their graduation from the School. The then School Director Dr. Abel emphasized that by spending two years at the hospital, the student midwives would better understand and learn ethical requirements.
Requirements. In 1930, when enrolling in the School, future midwives had to comply with the following rules:
Tuition fees. Until 1938, the tuition fee for 1 year constituted 140 lats, however, after 1938 it was 240 lats. There were no scholarships at that time. However, after 1936 with a decision of a special commission the Riga City Council decided to allocate a certain amount of financial support to highly intelligent and diligent students. In historical years, when scholarships were paid in accordance with the School budget and the regulations on scholarships, the scholarships had to be repaid to the State within 3 years, commencing from the second year of employment.
Discipline and rigour. Students were often expelled from the School for sloppy and poor quality work in the department or non-compliance with the asepsis requirements. In 1920-1924, the School Director Dr. Putniņš introduced the following strict requirement – students had to be on duty for 12 hours for 7 consecutive days, and rest was out of the question. Training took place in the evening because students worked in the hospital departments as patient carers or janitorial staff during the day. Consistent with another compulsory decision, students had to donate blood unconditionally, in other words, they had to become blood donors, otherwise they had to face expulsion from the School.
During World War II, the School operated as a Nursing School in Bashkortostan for some time.
In 1945, the School introduced paramedic training, gradually switching to the training of single-profile paramedics; the specialty was called “paramedic-midwife”.
In 1954, the Paramedic and Midwifery School was renamed Riga First Medical School.
In 1960, Riga First Medical School acquired the School of Pharmacists.
In 1963, Riga First Medical School acquired the School of Dental Technicians. That year the School gained a new home at 37 Tomsona Street, where it is still located today but already as Riga First Medical College of the University of Latvia.
In 1992, in cooperation with foreign partners from the Scandinavian countries and Canada, and following the initiative and deploying the knowledge of the College Director (then School Director) I. Bunga, a completely new specialty – a dental nurse - was established in the Baltic States.
In 1997, there was created another new educational program training dental assistants.
In 2005, the College commenced training of nursing assistants, whereas in 2010 of patient carers.
In August 2005, the School acquired the status of a college, and in the capacity of Riga First Medical College became the successor of the rights and legal obligations of Riga First Medical School.
The year 2003 was historically significant for the College because the College, its board and academic staff were awarded the prestigious David Hieronymus Grindel Medal for their contribution to the training of pharmacists and medical staff.
Since 2019 the College has continued its operations and development in its new status of Riga First Medical College of the University of Latvia.
The College and its study programs have successfully passed a number of accreditations. The College has expanded its foreign cooperation by increasing the number of foreign partners, which is why Riga First Medical College of the University of Latvia has gained recognition not only in Latvia, but also abroad.
The students of Riga First Medical College of the University of Latvia are future medical staff many of whom pursue their education at the College because of the family tradition, that is, from one generation to generation. Specifically, when asked about the choice of College, many replied that the College was recommended by their parents, relatives and acquaintances who had graduated from Riga First Medical College and assessed it as rigorous, modern and competitive educational institution.
One important factor contributing to the high quality of provided education is such that the College collaborates with employers and professional associations on a regular basis. All programs are designed so that from the first year onwards students pursue their education in the environment closely connected to the real work environment. In 2020, the survey of Latvian employers which was conducted on the portal Prakse.lv and which was organized by the Latvian Employers’ Confederation (typically known as LDDK) determined that Riga First Medical College of the University of Latvia was included in the TOP 10 educational institutions recommended by Latvian employers for the pursuit of a profession.
Every year all students are 100% provided with internships, which often become the jobs of future graduates.
In recent years the College has significantly supplemented its technical base for training purposes by installing a model of a pharmacy that is similar to the real work environment, by purchasing innovative interactive whiteboards and by implementing the STEM project, which has resulted in the installation and set up of the following equipment: