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Digitalisation in Education and Health was the topic of the Fifth International Partnerships Forum of MU - Varna

The International Partnerships Forum of the Medical University of Varna was held on October 8th 2020 for the fifth consecutive year. This issue it was organised in a virtual environment and was entitled "Digitalisation in Education and Health".  More than 120 participants, among whom university professors, students and guests, took part online in the "Blackboard" electronic platform of the Medical University of Varna.

 The foreign participants included partners from 10 countries – Romania, Switzerland, the USA, Portugal, Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Greece and Germany as well as from the Black Sea Universities Network (BSUN), of which Varna Medical University is co-founder and member since 1998.

The international event was opened by Prof. Todorka Kostadinova who presented the greetings address on behalf of the Rector of the Medical University of Varna Prof. Dr. Valentin Ignatov, MD, PhD.

In the first session of the Forum Assoc. Prof. Aneta Dokova – Head of the Department of International Relations made an overview of the previous issues, their objectives, scope and outcomes.

The Director of the International Electronic and Distance Learning Center Prof. Ivan Merdzhanov acquainted the audience with the "Blackboard" electronic platform as part of the university infrastructure and as a tool for digitalization of education. The Director of the University Library Rumyana Radeva and Marina Klissourova from the "Research and Reference Services" of the Medical University of Varna presented the electronic resources and the digitalised materials for the teaching process and scientific research.

In the second part the floor was given to the foreign partners. The session was opened with Prof. Dr. Eden Mamut - Secretary General of the Black Sea Universities Network who appraised very highly the development of Varna Medical University throughout the last decades and its turning into a leading modern university not only on the Balkans but in Europe, too. On behalf of "Ovidius" University of Constanta he presented the project "Digital and Open Science Tools for Developing Cooperative Research Activities in the Field of Nanomedicine and Nanosafety", on which the Romanian scholars are currently working. Dr. Krikor Dikranyan – Professor of Anatomy in Neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis was connected from the United States to inform the audience about the challenges in front of the medical studies and the curricular changes at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis during the pandemic. Another long-standing partner followed - Prof. Boyko Gueorguiev-Rüegg who is the Program Leader for Biomedical Development at AO Research Institute and who talked about the digitally-enhanced surgical training and patient outcome assessment. Assoc. Prof. Kristina Bliznakova from the Department of Medical Equipment, Electronic and Information Technologies in Healthcare, familiarized the participants with the international collaboration with leading universities in Europe through digitalization in the field of biomedical technologies. The Director of Educational and Research Institute for Education Quality of the National Medical University in Kharkiv (Ukraine) Prof. Igor Zavgorodnii took part in the Forum with a presentation "Digital Technologies in Study Process Quality Assurance". Prof. Helena Germano from the Polytechnical Institute in Setubal took part in the discussion and made a review of the partnership between the Portuguese university and the Medical University of Varna.

The third session "Directions and forms of development of partnerships to achieve a better quality of training, treatment and research" was dedicated to 2020 - the international year of nursing, as proclaimed by the WHO.

The Dean of the Faculty of Public Health Prof. Antonia Dimova presented an overview of the international partnerships of the faculty with an emphasis on the partnerships for excellence. Prof. Silvia Borisova - Head of Department of Nursing Care, Faculty of Public Health, talked about the cooperation and the mobility in the specialties of nursing and midwifery at Varna Medical University. Prof. Sonya Toncheva also took part in the session in her position of Chair of the National Council of Nursing Care at the Ministry of Health, experienced university professor and Director of the Shumen Affiliate. She looked into the challenges and solutions for the nurses and midwives under conditions of digitalization. The session ended with a selection of 10 video clips prepared by the University television MU-Vi TV demonstrating the good practices in the field of digitalisation, electronic and simulation education and telemedicine at MU – Varna.

The final part of the programme was a summary of the discussed topics and the achieved outcomes. Its natural ending was the invitation by the University's academic management to all the participants to join the sixth edition of the event which will traditionally be organised in October 2021.