Who we are
The Croatian Society of Medical Biochemists (CSMB) was founded in 1953 as a voluntary and non-profit professional association of medical biochemists. Until 1988, CSMB had been part of the Croatian Pharmaceutical Society and afterwards became an autonomous association. In 2012, it changed its name to the Croatian Society of Medical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CSMBLM), in line with the current trends within the profession and with the recommendations of European and global professional associations. Today, we have more than 750 members, engineers/masters in medical biochemistry, specialists, masters or doctors of science, assistant professors and professors involved in the healthcare system, research, education or commerce.
CSMBLM has been a full member of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry (IFCC) since 1972, first as part of the Yugoslav Society of Medical Biochemists and since 1992 as an independent party. In 1993, CSMBLM became a member of the Forum of the European Societies of Clinical Chemistry, nowadays the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM).
CSMBLM publishes a scientific magazine Biochemia Medica (www.biochemia-medica.com) in the English language thrice a year. It is indexed by reputable citation databases such as Current Contents (CC), Medline, PubMedCentral (PMC), Science Citation Index Expanded™ (SCIE, Thomson Reuters), JournalCitation Reports/Science Edition (JCR, Thomson Reuters), EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, Scopus, CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service), EBSCO/Academic Search Complete, DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals).
A significant task, regularly carried out by CSMBLM since 1970, is the external assessment of the performance quality of all medical biochemistry laboratories in the Republic of Croatia. The external evaluation programs are updated and continually expanded according to the needs of the profession and in line with the European organizations for labor quality assessment (EQAL). Assessment results are the basis for the rating of medical laboratories carried out by the Croatian Chamber of Medical Biochemists.
CSMBLM organizes monthly meetings of its members, annual symposia and a national congress with international participation every three years.
All news and announcements are available on CSMBLM official web page (www.hdmblm.hr/en/) or via members' e-newsletter.
The activity of medical biochemistry is regulated by the Health Insurance Act (Official Gazette 117/03), Healthcare Act (Official Gazette 150/08) and Act on Medical Biochemistry (Official Gazette 121/03). Within the healthcare system, medical biochemist is acknowledged as one of the four academically educated professionals in medicine (Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Master of Pharmacy, Master of Medical Biochemistry, and Engineer of Medical Biochemistry).
The same law regulates the work of laboratory employees as well. The initial license for medical biochemistry practice within the healthcare system is issued to applicants by the Croatian Chamber of Medical Biochemists following a mandatory one year of internship in a medical biochemistry lab and after passing a professional exam at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The plan and program of the internship is prepared by the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry and CSMBLM and regulated by the Ordinance of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
The Croatian Chamber of Medical Biochemists ("the Chamber") was founded in 1995 as a mandatory professional association of medical biochemists working within the healthcare system pursuant to the Healthcare Act (Official Gazette 75/93). According to the same Act, the founders of the Croatian Chamber of Medical Biochemists are the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry of the University of Zagreb and the Croatian Society of Medical Biochemists. This Act introduced the so-called labor permit or license, which is issued for a period of six years. The Croatian Ministry of Health has authorized the Chamber for licensing medical biochemists working in medical institutions.
Accordingly, a program of continuous professional development of medical biochemist has been organized. For the purpose of continuous development, the Chamber acknowledges points achieved through various development programs organized by the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry (science degrees), Croatian Society of Medical Biochemists (symposia and congresses), Croatian Chamber of Medical Biochemists (courses) and other scientific institutions, as well as the publication of research results. The license is extended each six years based on the number of points achieved, as the criterion for continuous development stipulated by the Chamber's Regulation.
Accreditation of medical biochemistry laboratories
In cooperation with the Chamber, CSMBLM worked on the acceptance of the international standard for medical laboratory quality ISO 15189:2003, which has been accepted as the baseline standard for the accreditation of medical laboratories in European countries. In 2006, the Croatian Standards Institute accepted the standard as the Croatian norm for quality assessment of medical laboratories titled HRN EN ISO 15189:2006 Medical laboratories – Particular requirements for quality and competence, translated into the Croatian language in the same year. In accordance with the EA (European Co-operation for Accreditation) policy, national accreditation bodies, i.e. members of EA, accepted the ISO 15189:2003 standard for practical application in accreditation in 2003. In 2006, the Croatian Accreditation Agency (CAA) in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare started with activities aimed for the development of the accreditation scheme for medical laboratories according to the HRN EN ISO 15189:2006 requirements and as early as in 2007 first medical biochemistry laboratories were accredited in Croatia. The evaluation in the course of accreditation is participated in by specially educated medical biochemistry specialists as professional evaluators.
Education of medical biochemists
In 2005, the medical biochemistry study program at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry became a five-year program in line with the higher education reforms in the Republic of Croatia ensuing from the acceptance of the Bologna Declaration. This new concept places special emphasis on the multidisciplinary character of the profession in order to secure foundations for a quality implementation of recent scientific breakthroughs in a clinical environment. The program is harmonized with the recommendations accepted in the majority of Europe's countries in relation to working in medical biochemistry laboratories, as encompassed by the European Syllabus for the Training in Clinical Chemistry. The education program of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry foresees a five-year education cycle, which, according to the Act on Scientific Activity and Higher Education, ends in receiving the title of Master in Medical Biochemistry. The difference in relation to the previous study programs is that professional courses are included in the program from the very first year and a large number of elective courses are offered as well. The courses are organized so that 28% basic courses, 12% biomedical courses, 45% professional courses and 15% elective courses are on offer. The program is implemented with the maximum correlation between the basic and professional courses, and professional practice is introduced already in the first year. The courses are rated according to the ECTS system and can be transferred to other higher education institutions. The proposed teaching plan is carried out in cooperation with the Faculty's teaching staff at clinical hospitals' laboratories. The study program of medical biochemistry is available as an integral study program at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry of the University of Zagreb. After the completion of studies, students are awarded the title of Master in Medical Biochemistry, instead of the former title of graduate Engineer of Medical Biochemistry.
With the introduction of the Bologna Process in the higher education in 2005, requirements for attaining a doctoral degree have changed as well. During the same year, the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry of the University of Zagreb saw the introduction of a three-year doctoral study program consisting of basic, modular, methodological and elective courses. Generally, it takes about 5-6 years to complete this program and defend doctoral dissertation, after which candidates attain the academic degree of a Doctor of Science (PhD).
New specialization program in medical biochemistry and laboratory medicine is regulated by the Ordinance of specialization in health of Ministry of Health and Welfare (NN 73/08). Under this Ordinance medical biochemist can specialize in medical biochemistry and laboratory medicine or analytical toxicology. Only masters of Medical Biochemistry, who graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, may continue further specialization in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. Masters of Medical Biochemistry and Masters of Pharmacy, who graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, may continue further specialization in analytical toxicology.
New specialization program in medical biochemistry and laboratory medicine lasts 4 years. The program consists of lectures during the one-year postgraduate program, which also includes starting a four-year specialist experience in medical biochemistry laboratories that have been accredited for the training of medical students and residents from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in accordance with the proposal of Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry and the Croatian Society of Medical Biochemists. Upon completion of training, a specialist in medical biochemistry and laboratory medicine is a specialist who independently organizes all analytical procedures in medical laboratory and is responsible for every single employee who participates in the analytical work. Also participates as advisory health worker in the selection of diagnostic tests and explanation of expected and interpretation of unexpected test results.
New specialization program in analytical toxicology lasts 4 years. The program consists of lectures during the one-year postgraduate program, which also includes starting a four-year specialist experience in analytical and medical-biochemical laboratories that have been accredited for the training of medical students and residents from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in accordance with the proposal of Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry and the Croatian Society of Medical Biochemists. Upon completion of training, a specialist in analytical toxicology is an expert who independently organizes all analytical procedures in the laboratory of Analytical Toxicology and Pharmacology and bears full responsibility for every single employee who participates in the analytical work. Also participates as advisory health worker in the selection of diagnostic tests and explanation of expected and interpretation of unexpected results of toxicological analysis and opinions.
Clinical Chemistry Tradition in Croatia
Clinical chemistry has been a separate professional field in Croatia since 1937 when the first medical biochemistry laboratory was founded as an independent unit at the Clinical Hospital Merkur in Zagreb by Professor Ibrahim Ruždić.
The starting point in the undergraduate education of clinical chemists was the introduction of clinical chemistry as a subject into the academic curriculum of the study program of pharmacy in 1946 by Professor Marijana Fišer Herman.
In 1962, the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Zagreb was reorganized into three undergraduate programs: pharmacy, nutrition and medical biochemistry and was renamed to the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry. Since 1963, the study program took 8 semesters to complete.
In 1986, the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry saw the introduction of a completely new organization of university programs and medical biochemistry became a separate study program. This new and significantly improved program included new mandatory courses (molecular and cell biology, immunochemistry and immunology, molecular medicine, laboratory organization and management), as well as elective ones. A new component of such program was the acquisition of practical knowledge by active participation of students in clinical hospital laboratories' work. In 2002, the study program of medical biochemistry was extended by one semester to comprise 9 semesters overall. A professional who completed the studies in medical biochemistry would attain the title of a graduate engineer in medical biochemistry.
In 2005, the medical biochemistry studies at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry were converted into a five-year study program, following the Croatian higher education reforms based on the acceptance of the Bologna Declaration. The program was harmonized with the recommendations accepted in the majority of Europe's countries and is comprised of a one five-year cycle of education required to attain the title of a Master in Medical Biochemistry (mag.med.biochem.).