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All Bulgarian Medical Universities offer postgraduate medical study programs (specialization training or residency specialization) for graduates who have completed their 6-year undergraduate medical studies that have led to a Master's Degree. Subsequently, after graduation, students must specialize in a medical field which typically lasts 4-6 years depending on the programme they have graduated from. Postgraduate medical study focuses on the acquisition of a medical speciality according to the approved EU training medical programmes, and is complete once students have finished licensure examinations offered by the State Examination Commission if specialization takes place in Bulgaria. Most medical graduates of Bulgarian medical universities, whether Bulgarian, EU citizens or non-EU citizens, prefer to continue with their specialization in Bulgaria.

Note that it is imperative by this time that all foreigners (EU and non EU candidates) should have at least some competency in the Bulgarian language or take a 9-month preparatory course culminating with a Bulgarian language exam (B2 level in the EU framework) usually at the University, so as to be able to communicate with patients they treat in hospitals, as is the case in any country that a medical professional seeks specialization.

Bulgarian medical specialization training takes place at the Medical University Hospitals or affiliated clinics and it includes full-time practical training 8 hours per day in a position with duties pertaining to the curricula of respective specialities. In every medical University there is a Commission for Postgraduate Education appointed by the Rector, and admits to the Speciality State Examination only the candidates who have completed the respective specialization curricula successfully. In turn, medical specialists who have successfully passed the Speciality State Examination receive a certificate of a recognized speciality by the Medical University.

Every year, medical residency specialization positions are announced on the website of the Ministry of Healthcare (www.mh.government.bg) by the end of October, in the section "Normative Acts" under the heading "Regulations, Instructions and Orders", and are separate for EU candidates (including Bulgarians) and non-EU candidates, based on availability of funding, not the experience gained. In turn, EU candidates including Bulgarians are admitted to specialization positions through an application as well as a mandatory residency examination process and subsequently must secure funding, but non-EU candidates are admitted through an application process as they are self-funded.

In order for a specialization position to be secured, be it through government funding, sponsoring or self-funded, besides the relevant documentation that is required when applying for specialization, all EU applicants including Bulgarians must complete an entrance or eligibility exam. This Specialty State entrance Examination lasts 4 hours, during which candidates must expand on 2 topics from a given list of topics.

More specifically, with regard to funding for such specialization positions, both non-EU students and EU students may choose to pay for their specialization themselves, so long as they have found a position, adducing a specialization fee to the University of about £3,650 in two instalments, annually. Alternatively, for EU candidates only (including Bulgarians), funding is available for specialization positions announced by the Ministry of Healthcare (leading to respective residency Specialty State Examinations) in any of the following three ways:

  1. The Bulgarian Government pays the Medical University specialization fees of each Postgraduate Medical student trained (monthly: 180 BGN, or approx. £66, for every Medical student or 600 BGN, or approx. £219, for every Dental student) as well as the monthly salary of the Postgraduate Medical or Dental student (600-900 BGN, or approx. £219-329) (amounting to approximately £3,650 annually).
  2. A sponsor pays the monthly specialization fees to the Medical University (180 BGN, or approx. £90, if Medical student or 600 BGN, or approx. £219, if Dental student) and the monthly salary of the Medical or Dental student (600-900 BGN, or approx. £219-329) (amounting to approximately £3,650 annually).
  3. The Postgraduate students themselves pay the specialization fees to the Medical University (180 BGN, or approx. £66, if Medical student or 600 BGN, or approx. £219, if Dental student) and he or she might get a monthly salary of up to 600 BGN, or approx. £219, if any funds are available through EU grants (amounting to approximately £3,650 annually).

As should be expected, competition for Bulgarian Government funding of specialization positions is very high, but it is considerably lower when it comes to Sponsorships, or if sought specialization training positions are self-funded.

Securing Specialization Positions & Funding (if EU-candidates, including Bulgarians)
By January, about three months after the Ministry has publicized the available positions for postgraduate specialization, each Medical University will announce and advertise in local daily newspapers and on the official University website the commencement of a competition for all three aforementioned ways of funding pertaining to such specialization programmes.

After the University's announcement, candidates have one month to apply, by submitting relevant documentation to the Medical University for assessment, as well as prepare for Specialty State entrance Examination if applying for government funding. Subsequently, ranking of successful candidates as well as the position that each candidate secured and whether admission is sponsored, supported by government funding or self-funded, is publicized by the University.

If any positions are not covered, then Medical Universities will announce once more the available positions sometime between July and August, giving applicants 3 month to submit applications. This cycle repeats throughout the year. Below are listed the necessary documents to complete the process which must be certified, notarized and translated if necessary:

  1. Application Form for the specialty they wish to acquire
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. Notarized Copy of Degree of completed medical education
  4. Medical Certificate issued within one month prior to the date of application
  5. Certificate of competency or proficiency in Bulgarian and credentials that prove possession of knowledge in professional terminology in Bulgarian (All Foreign Students)
  6. Certificate of recognition of the Medical Degree acquired after 6 years of study in another country apart from Bulgaria (Foreign students)

The medical and dental specializations are:

NoSpecialtyYears
A. Specialities included in EU Directive 2005/36/EC on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications
     I. Specialities for holders of Master degree in Medicine
           Ia. Specialties with predominant therapeutic focus
1.Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care4
2.Internal Medicine5
3.Gastroenterology4
4.Geriatric Medicine4
5.Child Psychiatry4
6.Paediatrics4
7.Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases4
8.Infectious Diseases4
9.Cardiology4
10.Clinical Allergy4
11.Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics4
12.Clinical Haematology4
13.Skin and Venereal Diseases4
14.Radiotherapy4
15.Nerve Diseases4
16.Nephrology4
17.General Medicine3
18.Pneumology and phthisiatrics4
19.Psychiatry4
20.Rheumatology4
21.Emergency Medicine5
22.Haematology and Blood Transfusion4
23.Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation4
23a.Medical Oncology5
           Ib. Specialities with predominant focus
24.Obstetrics and Gynaecology4
25.Thoracic Surgery5
26.Paediatric Surgery5
27.Cardiac Surgery5
28.Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery5
29.Neurosurgery5
30.Orthopaedics and Traumatology5
31.Ophthalmology4
32.Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery5
33.Vascular Surgery5
34.Urology5
35.Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases4
36.Surgery5
           Ic. Specialities with prevalent clinical-diagnostic focus
37.Biochemistry4
38.Clinical Immunology4
39.Clinical Laboratory4
40.Microbiology4
41.Nuclear Medicine4
42.Image Diagnostics4
42a.General and Clinical Pathology4
42b.Radiobiology4
42c.Medical Genetics4
           Id. Specialties with another focus
43.Communal Hygiene4
44.Social Medicine and Health Management4
45.Occupational Medicine4
46.Pharmacology4
     II. Specialities for holders of Master degree in Dental Medicine
1.Oral Surgery3
2.Orthodontics3
     III. Specialties for holders of Master degree  in Medicine or Master degree in Dental Medicine
1.Dental, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery4
B. Specialities which are not included in EU Directive 2005/36/EC on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications
     I. Specialities for holders of Master degree in Medicine
           Ia. Specialties with predominant therapeutic focus
1.Angiology4
2.Paediatric Gastroenterology4
3.Paediatric Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases4
4.Paediatric Cardiology4
5.Paediatric Clinical Haematology and Oncology4
6.Paediatric Neurology4
7.Paediatric Nephrology and Haemodialysis4
8.Paediatric Pneumology and Phthisiatrics4
9.Paediatric Rheumatology4
10.Clinical Toxicology4
11.Medical Parasitology3
12.Neonatology4
13.Sports Medicine4
14Forensic Psychiatry4
14a.Occupational Diseases4
           Ib. Specialities with prevalent clinical-diagnostic focus
15.Aviation Medicine3
16.Virology3
17.Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases3
18Pathophysiology3
19.Forensic Medicine3
20.Toxicology3
           Ic. Specialities with another focus
21.Healthcare Economics2
22.Medicine of Disasters (Catastrophes)3
23.General Hygiene3
24.Radiation Hygiene3
25.Hygiene of Childhood and Adolescence3
26.Nutrition and Dietetics3
     II. Specialities for persons with Master degree in Dental Medicine
1.Paediatric Dental Medicine3
2.General Dental Medicine3
3.Operative Dentistry and Endodontics3
4.Periodontics and Oral Mucosal Diseases3
5.Prosthetic Dental Medicine3
6.Social Medicine and Public Dental Health3
7.Dental Clinical Allergy3
     III. Specialties for holders of Master degree in Medicine - lecturers at Faculties of Dental Medicine or Master degree in Dental Medicine
1.Dental Image Diagnostics3
     IV. Specialties for holders of Master degree in Pharmacy
1.Analysis of Medicinal Products3
2.Clinical Pharmacy3
3.Medicinal Plants and Phytopharmaceutical Products3
4.Organization and Economics of Distribution and Pharmaceutical Practice3
5.Organization and Economics of Pharmaceutical Production3
6.Pharmaceutical Technology with Biopharmacy3
7.Toxicology and Toxicological Analysis3
8.Clinical Chemistry3
     V. Specialties for holders of Bachelor degree or Professional Bachelor in "Healthcare Services" degree
1.Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care (for nurses and midwives)1
2.Hospital Hygiene (Prevention and Control of Infection)1
3.Consultant on Breastfeeding and Healthy and Dietetic Nutrition1
4.Nurse for Social Activities1
5.Public Healthcare (for nurses, midwives, sanitary inspectors and paramedics)1
6.Operating and Dressing Techniques (for nurses and midwives)1
7.Psychiatric Care (for nurses and paramedics)1
8.Rehabilitation Methods and Treatment of Children with Cerebral Paralysis (for rehabilitation therapists and ergotherapists)1
9.Primary Healthcare (for nurses)1
10.Emergency Medical Services (for nurses and paramedics)1
11.Specific Care of Patients with Oncological Diseases (for nurses and paramedics)1
12.Apparatus Maintenance of Extracorporeal Blood Circulation (for nurses and paramedics)1
     VI. Specialties for holders of non-medical higher education degree but with Master or Bachelor degree in other field
1.Analysis of Medicinal Products (for chemists)3
2.Biochemistry (for biochemists, biologists, molecular biologists and chemists)4
3.Biophysics (for biologists and physicists)3
4.Virology (for biologists and microbiologists)3
5.Healthcare Economics2
6.Clinical Psychology (for psychologists)3
7.Clinical Chemistry (for chemists, biochemists and biologists)3
8.Laboratory Immunology (for biologists, biochemists, molecular biologists, biotechnologists)3
9.Medicinal Plants and Herb Uses (for biologists)3
10.Medical Zoology (for biologists)3
11.Medical Informatics and Health Management3
12.Medical Radiological Physics (for physicists and engineers)3
13.Medical Sanitary Physics (for engineers and physicists)3
14.Medical Gymnastics (for kinesitherapists - methodists in medical gymnastics)3
15.Microbiology (for microbiologists and biologists)4
16.Radiation Hygiene (for biologists, physicists and chemists)3
17.Radiobiology (for biologists, physicists and chemists)4
18.Sanitary Chemistry (for chemists)3
19.Sanitary Engineering (for engineers and architects)3
20.Theoretical Foundations of Medical Chemistry (for chemists)3
21.Toxicology (for chemists, biochemists, biologists, molecular biologists, biotechnologists and ecologists)3
22.Organization and Economics of Pharmaceutical Production (for biologists, economists, chemists and chemical engineers)3
     VII. Specialties for holders of higher medical degree and non- medical education degree
1.Anatomy, Histology and Cytology (for doctors, doctors of dental medicine, biologists, molecular biologists)3
2.Medical Biology (for doctors, biologists, molecular biologists)3
3.Medical Pedadgogics (for doctors, doctors of dental medicine, pharmacists, persons with educational and qualification Bachelor degree or Professional Bachelor in "Healthcare Services" degrees, pedagogues and psychologists)3
4.Physiology (for doctors, doctors of dental medicine)3
5.Legal Regulation in Healthcare (for masters working in the Healthcare system)2
 

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