He is a young, educated doctor, determined to stay in Bulgaria - against all odds and because of them. Dr. Anton Asenov is 34 years old, he was born in the town of Shumen, but before his first birthday his family moved to Turkey. He grew up in Istanbul, where he finished his secondary education. As a schoolboy he very often spent his summer holidays in the countryside in Bulgaria. It was then when he decided that one day he would return to his homeland. And so in 2006 he applied for medicine in Bulgaria.
"Initially I started studying dentistry in Varna, but then I realised I was more interested in human medicine. So I moved to the University of Thrace in Stara Zagora. The language barrier at the beginning was a very big problem for me. Even for Bulgarians who know their native language, it is difficult to graduate in medicine. By the end of their studies 30-40% of those who start to study give up. And for me, as a Turk from Turkey, the language was a big hurdle, especially in the beginning. But I coped," admits Dr Asenov.
In 2016, he successfully completed his training and received his European Diploma for General Practitioner. And in 2018, he was appointed an otolaryngologist in Targovishte.
"I stayed in Bulgaria because during my training and internship I saw the shortage of medical staff, of specialists here. So I stayed to help." As for his young age and patients' trust in him, Dr. Asenov admits that he often comes as a last resort for those who visit his office.
"People know that we young doctors work with the most advanced equipment, our knowledge is up to date. I have personally posted on my FB page all the internships, specializations and skills I have, so people can knowingly choose and trust me before coming to me. I think it is a must for every doctor to do so"- says the young specialist.
Now in Targovishte there is no ENT department, there are no specialists, and people need doctors- Anton Asenov tells us. He has spent four years in the regional city, available around the clock to those in need. And although he is not working in a state hospital at the moment, because he has gone into private practice, the young doctor keeps on attending to requests for examination even late at night. And the comparison with his second homeland Turkey is inevitable.
"In Turkey there are more specialists, more opportunities, the state invests more money in its hospitals and specialists. In Bulgaria, especially in hospitals in small towns, the state helps very little financially, the equipment is outdated, there is shortage of well-trained staff, but when a person needs to be examined by a specialist in the course of a day, he will find one, he will be examined and that is good," Dr. Asenov noted.
He is adamant that the pay of PhD students in Bulgaria should change and be at the appropriate level. After graduating in medicine, they are supposed to work for five years for minimum wage, says Dr. Asenov. He is convinced that if conditions for his young colleagues improved, they would stay in Bulgaria, specialise here and some of them would then decide to work in their home country. Because Bulgarian medical education is very good and, unlike in Turkey, in Bulgaria you get a European medical diploma. And although Dr Anton Asenov has a license to practice abroad, he chooses to stay and continue to examine his patients in Razgrad and Targovishte. Despite everything.
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