102 anniversary of the Medical University – Sofia and 77 of the Faculty of Dental Medicine

 

In 2019 we celebrate the 102nd anniversary of the Medical University – Sofia and the 77th anniversary of the Faculty of Dental Medicine. 
Nowadays we are in the second century from the foundation of MU – Sofia and it is time to strike the balance of the professional road we have travelled, analyse the present and look into the future. As long as our profession exists, let us always remember that:
Vasil Argazov had a permit № 1 issued for „free practice of the art of dentistry….” In Bulgaria on 25.06.1880.
Friedrich Karl Flämmich, who was born in Prague – in the Czech Republic passed an exam for dentist in the Kiev University „Saint Vladimir”, in 1869. He was the first dentist that in order to get the right to practice in Rousse (later on he got relocated to Sofia) to pass a colloquium under the Public health Protection Act that was effective back then. Friedrich Flämmich bestowed his library and museum collection to the Bulgarian Dental Association. Small part of the exhibits donated by him were preserved and placed inside the dental medicine museum in the Faculty of Dental Medicine, Medical University – Sofia which was revived in honour of the 70th anniversary, in the end of 2012. The museum is named after Friedrich Karl Flämmich, may his memory live forever.
On the 20th of December 1905 in the small salon of „Slavyanska beseda” in Sofia they opened the First congress of Bulgarian dentists. The First Bulgarian Odontological (Dental) Association (FBO(D)A) was founded by 19 colleagues.
On the 4th of July 1910 on the IV regular congress of FBO(D)A they passed the historical resolution on renaming it to Bulgarian Dental Association, following the suggestions made by its chairman Friedrich Karl Flämmich. 
Back in 1906 for the first time they requested permit to found Dental Institute (institute of higher education) in Bulgaria.
In the end of 1920 the Management Board of the Bulgarian Dental Association presented to the attention of the Minister of people’s culture and education detailed exhibition on the need of establishing dental school „that will put the beginning of the Bulgarian dental science…”.    
In 1921 during a session of the Minister of culture and education together with representatives of the Bulgarian Dental Association and the Medical faculty they arrived to the following resolution:

  • The education in dentistry is to be acquired in the Medical Faculty, in the Department of Odontology;
  • The tuition term is 4 years;
  • The theoretical preparation is attended together with the students in medicine;
  • Those that successfully passed their exams graduate with the award of “doctor in dentistry”.

That resolution had its fans as well as its opponents that presented arguments whereas a school of higher education would be too extensive to the state, there was no well-prepared tutoring personnel etc. The unsuccessful wars led by Bulgaria in that period – 1913-8 and the following economic and political crises additionally slowed the resolution of that issue down.
The arguments „for” and „against” the opening of school of higher education in dentistry in Bulgaria lasted for more than 30 years.
They sought for the opinion of reputable figures abroad. Professor A. Kantorovich was invited for consulting since he was globally renowned name in dentistry. Until 1933 he used to be a Dean of the Faculty of Dental Medicine to the University in Bonn, then he turned out to be founder and director of the Dental Faculty in Istanbul. Several of our capable and talented colleagues studied and graduated there and some of them later on turned into renown professors: B. Boyanov, D. Stranski, B. Nikolov. Professor Kantorovich consulted back in those years, around the 40-ies of the XX century, whereas he stated that in order to create education in dentistry in our country we needed to invite lecturers – professors and assistants from abroad. According to him, back then in Bulgaria there was no personnel to achieve that objective. The government actions in the next couple of months and years showed the opinion of professor Kantorovich was heard, understood, patriotically corrected and implemented. The long awaited event that was postponed for many years and finally came to life. With a decree N 32 issued by king Boris III a law was passed on the modification and supplementation of article 278, letter „b” and „d” and article 319 of the People’s Culture and Education Act… The departments in the Medical Faculty could be grouped in the following sections: 1. Medicine and 2. Dentistry (See Figure 1.)  Associate professor (professor) Sl. Davidov was elected for director of the dental division of the Medical Faculty to Sofia University, in 1942. He graduated dentistry in Leipzig, Germany, in 1928 and medicine there, in 1935 where he continued working as an assistant until 1938.  He specialized in maxillofacial surgery in Vienna and Berlin.
In 1943 they opened the Department of surgical dentistry and orthodontics and the Department of Dental technology. Their founders and first heads were associate-professor (professor) Sl. Davidov and associate-professor (professor) doctor  Georgi Stiliyanov correspondingly. The latter graduated the Dental Faculty in Halle – Germany, in 1925 where he used to work as an assistant and chief doctor until 1934. 
In 1946 associate-professor (professor) doctor Dimitar Svrakov was elected as head of the Department of conservative dentistry who graduated the Dental Faculty in Freiburg, in 1929 where he used to work as an assistant. He graduated medicine in Sofia back in 1952 and specialized in Philadelphia, Istanbul and Essen.
Thus they patriotically corrected and implemented the pieces of advice of professor Kantorovich. In the capacity of founders of our first basic department they did not invite foreign professors, but excellently prepared Bulgarians that had graduated higher education in dentistry in Germany and defended doctor theses there, learnt to teach the German model of practical and theoretical tuition for many years there and successfully implemented it in Bulgaria. The first dentistry course was enrolled in the end of 1942 with duration of the tuition term of 4 years, i.e.8  semesters, plus 6 months of qualifying period and doctor theses.
Let us not forget that doctor Stefan Krayovski, may his memory live forever, was the first student to enrol in the Faculty of Dental Medicine, Medical University – Sofia,
In the first course of dentistry 79 students were enrolled in 1942.
Bearing in mind the need of personnel back in 1944 – 941 students were enrolled, and in 1945 – 1139 students. Those courses became famous for their appellations, namely – „cursus magnus” and „cursus intermedius”.
In 1950 the Dental division in the Medical Academy – Sofia grew into Division in Dentistry and in 1951 – into Faculty of Dentistry. The dentistry tuition was extended from 8 to 10 semesters, on the account of the medical subjects. The objective was to provide the future dentists with „comprehensive general medical preparation and treat the issues comprehensively concerning the masticatory apparatus.”
Back in those years indispensable assistance was rendered by professor F. M. Datsenko, dean of the Kharkiv Denta Faculty. We would like to quote professor D. Stranski (dental review ХХХI, 1949, 62-5): „Professor Datsenko taught us how to build our new organization and work. Thanks to his help and personal participation we developed the curriculum for the 5-year tuition course (10 semesters – author’s note) and some programmes. We reconstructed the scientific and academic work….”. Nowadays all these acquisitions are real and to our greatest satisfaction we could say that despite the short development period passed by our dental education, later on education in dentistry (and since 2007 in dental medicine – author’s note) the success we have achieved guarantee its future development.
Under the European Directive 16 on regulated professions, the major „Dentistry” was renamed with great success to „Dental medicine” and “dentist” – into „doctor of dental medicine”, since the 1st of January 2007. Lots of efforts were made until making it to these appellations. The discussions held in the summer of 2004 were quite anxious. Several of our colleagues holding head electable titles back in those years whose names should be known and never to be forgotten: from the Faculty of Dental Medicine, Medical University – Sofia: professor doctor Todor Peev, PhD, DSc, Vice-Rector of the Medical University - Sofia (1997-2008), professor doctor Tsvetan Yolov, PhD, DSc, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Medicine, Medical University - Sofia (2003-7) professor doctor Doan Ziya, PhD,  Voce-Dean (1999-2003) and Dean of the Faculty of Dental Medicine - Sofia (2007-10), professor doctor Andon Filtchev, PhD, DSc, Chairman of the Bulgarian Scientific Dental Association (2001-2010); from the Faculty of Dental Medicine, Medical University – Plovdiv – professor doctor Trifon Mihaylov PhD, Vice-Rector of the Medical University - Plovdiv (2004-2012) and deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Dental Association, are worth praising for the work they have done and the energy they have spent until establishing, passing and legalizing at government level the new appellations: „dental medicine” and „doctor in dental medicine”. The Dental faculties were renamed to Faculties of Dental Medicine within the structures of the Medical Universities – Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna.
As soon as the 4-year mandate started, in February 2008 professor doctor Vanyo Mitev, PhD, DSc, Rector of the Medical University – Sofia raised the issue to the attention of the management teams of the Faculty of Dental Medicine and the Faculty of Pharmacy on the introduction of paid tuition in English language that was already initiated in the Medical Faculty. Rapid reaction followed only from the management team of the Faculty of Pharmacy. Order № РК 36 – 162 / 04. 05. 2010 was issued by the Rector of the Medical University with the following contents: „concerning the arrangement of  English language tuition in the Faculty of Dental Medicine to the Medical University – Sofia – I order – and assign to professor Andon Filchev – Vice-Rector of  Medical University Sofia international operations to perform the necessary actions in order to arrange and introduce English language tutoring in the Faculty of Dental Medicine…..” (See figure 2).
After running good preparation since the beginning of the academic 2011/12 in the Faculty of Dental Medicine – Sofia tutoring dental medicine in English language was initiated to 57 foreign students. The resonation in neighbouring and distant countries was surprisingly large. The international prestige of dental medicine tuition in Bulgaria is continuously improving.
Let us not forget that Dimocritos Stefanidis, from Greece is  the first student to enrol in the Faculty of Dental Medicine, Medical University – Sofia and held student’s book E 1- English education and received his diploma in dental medicine on  07.07.2017.

The present short historical balance shows that in the past 77 years the tuition in dentistry-stomatology-dental medicine in our country kept developing in the upwardly right direction. Thanks to the refurbished clinical and preclinical tuition halls and 4 aulas in the Faculty of Dental Medicine, Medical University – Sofia, of which 2 are new, with the highly professional lecturers of whom 17 professors, 28 associate-professors, 20 assistant-professors and 64 assistants, with the inquisitive Bulgarian and foreign students, we could take a confident look at our future development. Let it be known, that the 77-years Bulgarian school in dental medicine combines the best of the Western and Eastern Europe and creates in our scholars quite the solid base of theoretical knowledge in human and dental medicine and sustainable practical skills in the 6-year (12-semester) tuition in dental medicine. Every doctor in dental medicine who has graduated the Faculty of Dental Medicine, Medical University – Sofia in Bulgaria could undertake by him/herself the basic operations from the first day of his or her professional career. Let destiny be merciful towards all these around 1500 Bulgarian and foreign students in their realization in  our favourite profession.

Dear colleagues, let us congratulate ourselves on the jubilees we celebrate in 2019: 102 years of the Medical University – Sofia and 77 years of the Faculty of Dental Medicine, Medical University – Sofia “towards our bright future”!