An interview with Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tsvetan Tonchev, PhD, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Medicine at Medical University – Varna
Interview: Velina Markovska
Assoc. Prof. Tonchev, the fourth class has graduated from the Faculty of Dental Medicine at MU – Varna this year, and new students have been accepted for the 10th year on end. These 10 years of time – are they a lot or not?
Assoc. Prof. Tonchev: Two hundred and twenty-four dental practitioners have already finished their training at FDM at Medical University - Varna over the past four years. Our Faculty is the youngest Faculty of Dental Medicine in Bulgaria, and I am proud to say that our students are being trained at a modern Faculty with a beautiful building, modern training facilities and an excellent team of young lecturers. TEAM - Experts, Quality, Innovation, Professionalism, this is the motto that has led us from the beginning of my first term of office as a Dean of FDM -Varna.
What kind of job opportunities does FDM – Varna offer to the alumni - Masters of Dental Medicine in Varna?
Assoc. Prof. Tonchev: What we really take pride in is the fact that for the time being about a quarter of the academic staff are graduates of our Faculty. This is extremely positive and clear indication that FDM - Varna is an institution provoking the interest of young professionals in their pursuit of professional and academic fulfilment. I believe that now, with the establishment of the University Medico - Dental Centre, our Faculty will become even more attractive to them. They are provided with the opportunity to work, specialize and develop their academic potential in a modern structure, equipped with the most modern equipment.
Would you tell us more about the postgraduate programmes of study at FDM-Varna?
Assoc. Prof. Tonchev: When the project of FDM – Varna was launched, the persons with a specialty were very few at the dental departments. Currently, the majority of the academic staff has acquired a specialty. This is a steady trend and our main objective is in this way to provide our students with the highest possible theoretical and practical training. The target I've set myself within the new term of office is to increase the number of academic staff members with more than one specialty and educational degree. Our University has the potential and ambition to make this happen.
We live in a dynamic time where innovative technologies are implemented in education and medicine. What are the ambitions of FDM - Varna?
Assoc. Prof. Tonchev: Some of our recent ambitions have already become a reality. The platform for additional e-learning (Blackboard) was officially introduced at the beginning of the academic year 2014-2015 at FDM - Varna as part of Medical University - Varna. It is a global leader in innovative technologies in education. The system allows constant communication between students and lecturers, stimulating and facilitating the access of students to academic resources and at the same time providing lecturers with an effective and innovative tool for individual conduct of the training process.
Is high-tech Dental Medicine the future of training in Dental Medicine in Bulgaria?
Assoc. Prof. Tonchev: High-tech equipment and technology are something that everyone can purchase if they have the funds. As a Dean of the Faculty I value people because they are the determining factor enabling quality education with their high qualification and professionalism. The finalization of a project concerning the equipment can be completed in a few months while the accomplishment of a professional and a lecturer is a process that takes many years. In a competitive environment, what we ought to do is to attract people with potential, to offer them an environment in which they can develop their potential and keep them with us. This will enable both their involvement in the training of undergraduate, PhD and postgraduate students at high level and their own individual continuous self-improvement, professional and academic development. Moreover, in the near future we intend to introduce cutting edge technology and simulators for practical training, thus implementing a smooth and logical transition from preclinical to clinical work environment.