History of School of Medicine - VNUHCM

2023-09-01 09:00:49

Preparatory process

Since the very beginning of the establishment of VNUHCM, the policy, and determination to build the School of Medicine and the affiliated General Hospital have been made/adopted and mentioned in the Report on Reviewing and Adjusting the Construction Investment Project of VNUHCM in December 2010. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Thanh Binh, Member of the Party Central Committee and Director of VNUHCM (2007–2012) stressed this in numerous meetings to promote the project:

“VNUHCM is not simply a site/destination of development of natural science, social science, or management science, and so on. Human happiness is the last thing the VNUHCM aims at, and health science deserves (adequate) attention. The establishment of the VNUHCM School of Medicine is not an adequate addition to a sufficient “role” as a multidisciplinary and multidisciplinary institution, but first and foremost for public health.

The Board of Regents of VNUHCM was well aware that the establishment of the School of Medicine is a complicated and tough task because it involves human life. As a result, they were of great caution and deliberation. Such was the intention and aspiration, but how to implement them and what to put the specific actions into practice while there were still many challenges related to money/capital, experience, and manpower. Accordingly, numerous gradual, adequate, and sustainable steps had to be taken. As a result, the first stage of project development only focused on establishing strategic partnerships with local and foreign medical institutions while aggressively utilizing the assistance of the Vietnam Ministry of Health and the Department of Health of Ho Chi Minh City, and consulting industry professionals. This preparatory procedure took nearly ten years.

When the conditions for the establishment of the School of Medicine and health sciences were favorable in 2008, VNUHCM began strongly promoting the preparation for the establishment of the School of Medicine by inviting leading experts for further advice such as Prof. Dr. Pham Manh Hung, Former Deputy Head of the Central Propaganda Committee, Former Deputy Minister of Health; Prof. Dr. Pham Gia Khanh, Former Director of Military Medical Academy; Prof. Dr. Dang Van Phuoc, Rector of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City; Prof. Dr. Truong Dinh Kiet, Former Vice Rector of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City; Prof. Dr. Vu Duc Moi, Former Deputy Director of Military Medical Academy; Prof. Dr. Hoang Trong Kim, Head of Pediatrics Department of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen The Hiep, Former Director of Center for Training and Nurturing Medical Staff in HCMC; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vu Thi Nhung, Former Director of Hung Vuong Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dao Van Long, Vice Rector of Hanoi Medical University; Dr. Vu Cong Lap, Former Deputy Director of Military Science Academy; Dr. Second Degree Specialist Nguyen The Dung, Former Director of HCMC Department of Health, and so on.

The School of Medicine and VNUHCM were consistently cautious about significant areas, particularly the later opening of disciplines and establishment of faculties. Opening/Setting up Pharmacy and accepting its students was carried out in 2016 after having fulfilled all requirements for people, programs, and facilities… In particular, it was not until Assoc. Prof. Dr. Le Minh Tri, a recognized authority/expert in pharmacy, was allowed by the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City was VNUHCM permitted to establish new disciplines. The first general medicine training course (Med2010) graduated this year as well, which meant that the School of Medicine completed its first cycle of general medicine training. This gave the School of Medicine important management and training skills.


In order to evaluate the feasibility and science of the project, VNUHCM established a Scientific Council to appraise the project to establish the School of Medicine and Hospital under the VNUHCM under Decision No. November 21, 2008 signed by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Huynh Thanh Dat.

There were several indications of advantages during the project assessment council meeting while examining the conditions of resources, such as available facilities and the support of system member unit system. However, a number of top specialists expressed numerous reservations as well. Questions centered on how to create an organic teaching team, which hospitals for clinical practice, how to guarantee the quality of training, the requirement for outputs, and how to connect with the national health system. Many people had doubts about the viability of the school’s modular integrated general medicine curriculum because it seemed impossible to implement a cutting-edge innovation program at a single hospital. Even the only unit that applied for the block-based integrated program before was Can Tho University of Medicine and Pharmacy. It returned to the annual training program in 2012.

Could the VNUHCM School of Medicine’s bold step be successful?

In his speech at the graduation of the first general practitioners, Prof. PhD. MD. Dang Van Phuoc, the Dean of the School of Medicine from its inception to the present, echoed these hesitations as well: “When VNU Ho Chi Minh City established the School of Medicine, public opinion was not less skeptical, many people considered it to be futile. Even medical students had questions regarding the training program, the worth of the degree, and other topics during the first week of the 2010 class on civic activities. Given the extensive training needed to become a doctor, the initial difficulties were understandable. meticulous planning of compatible equipment, vehicles, and human resources. But over time, with the invested efforts of VNU-HCM, the faculty’s commitment, and the students’ commitment, the School of Medicine has achieved today’s very proud outcomes.

Difficult first steps…

After being officially established on June 23, 2009, the VNUHCM School of Medicine faced initial difficulties. It saw limited investment resources (state budget, ODA…). As a result, the school was only given a limited amount of recurrent funding each year. Only roughly one billion VND was required to cover the first year’s running expenses. This cost was used to purchase a few sets of tables and chairs, computers, printers, and other necessary equipment. The accommodation’s location and amenities came next. The school’s first closed address was room 601 (now the Department of Administrative Organization). The basic infrastructure hardly supported more than a few individuals. In this year, all expenditures must go through the Office of VNUHCM, all activities must be supported by the member units in the system. Therefore, VNUHCM established an Executive Board of the School of Medicine consisting of five members to run all activities. Specifically, Dr. Nguyen Duc Nghia is/was the Head of the Executive Committee, which could be considered as the first interim Dean, Prof. Dr. Truong Dinh Kiet, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ho Huynh Thuy Duong are/were the Deputy Head of the Executive Committee.

Prof. PhD. MD. Dang Van Phuoc was invited by VNUHCM to become Dean of the School in 2010. Subsequently, functional departments such as the Office of Administration and organisation; Office of Academic and Student Affairs; Office of Planning and Finance; Office of Facilities and Equipment Management, etc., were gradually established and formed the initial core of the institutional operating system.

The Board of Regents of VNU-HCM appointed MSc. Tran Van Thuan, who was serving as the institution’s deputy chief of office at the time, was the permanent vice dean cum first secretary of the School of Medicine branch in 2011. The Anatomy Practice Area, and the laboratory system, were the most notable of the School’s basic facilities for research and instruction, and MSc. Tran Van Thuan is/was the person who played a significant role in their formation and consolidation. He also established the groundwork for the growth of the trade union and Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union within the Faculty.

Due to development requirements, in December 2012, VNU-HCM’s Board of Regents of the VNUHCM invited Assoc. Prof. Le Van Quang, Deputy Director of Thong Nhat Hospital, Deputy Dean of the Department of Medicine, Deputy Head of the Department of Plastic and Aesthetics, University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, to hold the position of Vice Dean of the School of Medicine – Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City. In addition to his expertise in surgery, he was also a multi-talented, enthusiastic person, close to medical staff, officials, and students. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, he taught many generations of medical students at medical universities. He is/was considered one of the most dominant keynote speakers/vice deans in communication activities.

In the mid to late 2015, VNUHCM appointed two more Vice Deans, Prof. Dr. Le Minh Tri to develop Pharmacy and Dr. Nguyen Thi Thanh Kieu to be in charge of administrative activities, facilities and equipment, social work and mass organizations. In January 2017, Dr. Le Nguyen Duc Chinh was appointed as Vice Dean of the School, contributing to the development of external relations, proposing many ideas in building university governance strategies.

In October 2018, the Board of Regents of VNUHCM appointed MSc. Nguyen Hoang Dung, who has extensive experience in business administration, investment, economics and financial strategic planning, as the Permanent Vice Dean in charge of public affairs. Along with the rapid development of the training needs of new professions and satisfying urgent societal needs, Prof. Dr. Hoang Tu Hung was invited to hold the position of Deputy Dean of the School, and be in charge of the Department of Odonto-Stomatology from January 1, 2019.

Growth from the power of the system

Since its establishment, it can be said that besides perseverance and devotion to the common goal, the strength of the VNUHCM system has helped the School of Medicine overcome many initial difficulties. The working group of VNUHCM for the period of year 2011-2016 headed by the Chancellor of VNUHCM and the leaders of the Office and functional departments jointly participated and had the role of directing and supporting the Dean of the School of Medicine in Medicine. The School of Medicine has thus started to find the organizational structure, the system of units, teaching staff, and the standard framework for the training program just a year after its foundation.

VNUHCM is a key university in Vietnam, a multi-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary university training institution with a large training scale, and a team of scientists and lecturers from member institutions. Teaching students in the School of Medicine is the responsibility of every faculty member, and not all medical training institutes have such a strong team of basic researchers in the southern region. This capability enables the School of Medicine to produce competent medical professionals in both clinical and fundamental research.

Departments of Philosophy, History, Language Studies, and Psychology of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities; Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics of the University of Natural Sciences; Center for National Defense and Security Training; Unit of Physical Education of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities; Center for Political Theories (the predecessor of the School of Political and Administration Sciences)… supported teaching students of the School of Medicine subjects ranging from physical education, English, philosophy, and so on. VNUHCM key laboratories such as laboratories for physiology, biochemical-biological molecular, pharmacology, and micro-parasitic research, and so on are destinations for students from the School of Medicine to conduct their practical experiments.

Regarding VNUHCM Infrastructure, there is already “clean” land available to construct the School of Medicine and a hospital in the planned area in Thu Duc – Di An. In the early years, VNUHCM had its facilities (both the 6th and 7th floors, as well as the 5th floor, and basement) available for immediate teaching, practice, and office work. In particular, the system of civil service residences was operated, which helped to significantly reduce the cost of lodging for both domestic and international experts who traveled to support the development project of the School of Medicine.

Regarding investment capital: VNUHCM already had its capital for basic construction to establish new training units.

About expertise: Vienna University of Medicine, Austria, is committed to providing professional support and staff training for the School of Medicine and the hospital staff within the framework of comprehensive cooperation programs.

The School of Medicine has made outstanding progress based on the foundation and circumstances established after working diligently to create them for almost ten years.

In 2010, the School of Medicine started to enroll and train students based on the first integrated medical program applied in Vietnam. Research Center for Genetics and Reproductive Health was established and appointed MSc.MD. Ho Manh Tuong as the first Director (until 2017).

In 2011, the Practice Laboratory for Basic Medicine, Practice Laboratory for Medical Skills, and Anatomy Laboratory were officially founded.

In 2012, advanced teaching method PBL was implemented/adopted.

In 2013, clinical internships for students at the hospital were introduced. To advance scientific research and technology transfer activities, a comprehensive laboratory for genetic research and reproductive health was inaugurated and put into operation.

In 2014, the code of the facility for continuous training of medical staff was granted.

In 2015, The first module coordination committee for basic subjects was set up, creating favorable conditions for the implementation and coordination with the lecturers of the School of Medicine and the Schools and Centers in the VNUHCM system. The first Scientific Conference of VNUHCM School of Medicine was successfully organised.

In 2016, the first 64 students (intake 2010-2016) graduated, among of whom were 15 students with good academic performance, 44 with satisfactory academic performance, and 5 with average academic performance. In order to continue their advanced studies and work as future full-time lecturers, 12 outstanding students were chosen to work at the School of Medicine. The School of Medicine enrolled students in pharmacy for the first time in 2016 as well.

In 2017, enrollment of high quality General Medicine programme began. 

In 2018, the School of Medicine initially expanded admissions to high-quality medicine program for graduates from the VNUHCM university member whose major is closely related to health sciences. Up to now, the School of Medicine has been the first unit to enroll students to train them to be full-time doctors regardless of their different university degrees. At the same time, 2018 firstly saw the project implementation of the Northwest, Central Highlands, Southwest and key economic regions by the School of Medicine.

In 2019, the School of Medicine formally enrolled first batch of students of the Department of Odonto-Stomatology. The project “Improving the quality of medical doctor training through the application of the Edoopad Platform online teaching platform at the School of Medicine” was completed. Applying 4.0 technology solutions is expected to create many benefits for students, enhancing teaching and learning efficiency.

Since its 10 years of establishment, the VNUHCM School of Medicine has turned that strategic step into encouraging initial results. Four batches of students have graduated and made themselves known in important roles at hospitals and businesses. Numerous doctors graduating from the School of Medicine all have advantages such as creativity, logical thinking, lifelong learning, honesty, responsibility, leadership ability, and especially, English competence. From the initial success of the School of Medicine in applying the innovative integrated program, the Vietnam Ministry of Health has a policy of gradually transferring the training programs of general practitioners of training institutions throughout the country to this program.

Although not fully presented, the aforementioned positive aspects have also demonstrated the School’s strong momentum, which is a crucial predicate for encouraging the project to establish the University of Health Sciences and the VNUHCM Practice Hospital.