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At MU-Varna Future Medics Are Learning How to Communicate Properly with Their Patients

Education, fully consistent with the real needs of business - this is one of the key priorities laid down in the training of students at Medical University - Varna. Pursuing this policy, the Varna higher school draws the attention to how doctors and health professionals trained there should communicate with their future patients. This is the basis of the two-year project under OP "Human Resources Development", aimed at optimizing and updating the curricula on communication.

After completing the project, the higher school can boast the updating of a total of 20 curricula in Medicine, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health Management (Master and Bachelor), Pharmaceutical Management, Management of Health Care and Medical Cosmetician. Parallel to this, the team has developed and issued 10 unique manuals in Bulgarian, English, German and Russian, with a wide range of audio and visual materials for the development of individual communication skills of both Bulgarian and international students. (Currently nearly 900 international students from 43 countries around the world are studying at MU-Varna.)

After conducting surveys with project partners - multiprofile hospitals, pharmacies and medical centres in the city of Varna, the specific needs and requirements of the healthcare institutions have been established. Thus, programmes are being developed, in full compliance with the generally recognized European rules for communication, aimed at developing the communication competence of our doctors and healthcare specialists both in Bulgarian and foreign languages. Moreover, programmes in Bulgarian language for foreigners have been developed.

"In our country, unfortunately, quite often we have witnessed or we ourselves have been in situations of improper communication between doctors and patients. The pending problem could be solved by means of proper training," reminded the project manager Assoc. Prof. Violeta Tacheva, during the final information meeting, which took place on 18 March 2015, at MU-Varna. "Even before getting into a real working environment, future medics have to know a lot not only about medical science but also they must have solid skills in the art of communicating with their patients, they need to be aware of the specific situation, the intercultural differences", pointed out Assoc. Prof. Tacheva.

"In Germany, for example, the proper communication with patients is extremely important - it is unacceptable to talk to the patient informally, and a common reason for the dismissal of a doctor can be precisely the poor communication with the patient," said the Director of the Centre for Electronic and Distance Learning at MU-Varna Assoc. Prof. Ivan Merzhdanov. "In some German provinces the examination in communication of the medical student is conducted in a real environment with a patient who has to be diagnosed, and the student is assessed by both a doctor and a philologist."
The full title of the project, which is worth 276 317 lev, is "Increasing the communicative competence of students in Medicine, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health Management and Health Care through optimizing and creating new training programmes in communication in the field of health care and specialized foreign language, meeting the modern needs of hospitals and other medical institutions and the requirements of the modern information environment - BG051PO001-3.1.07-0061".

As a result of the project, besides the updating of the curricula and the issuance of specific aids for the needs of the training, a change in the examination form of the subject Communicative Competence has been achieved. Furthermore, in the future, students will already have the opportunity to include the subject as an elective.

"The language can treat as well. If a doctor talks to a patient calmly, with understanding and attention, undoubtedly the patient will feel better, no matter what their suffering is", concluded the project leader Assoc. Prof. Tacheva.