Choosing Pain Management to make a difference


We’re delighted to introduce you to our Pain Management Programme Leader, Dr Tzvetanka Ivanova-Stoilova. She recently shared how the last 27 years of her life and career have been spent in various healthcare systems across the UK, including South Wales, and how she managed to juggle family and work commitments at the same time.

In addition, she discussed the Pain Management programme in extensive detail and highlighted all the benefits of studying this flexible course.

What was your background prior to becoming a tutor in pain management?

When I was in Sofia, Bulgaria, I undertook the very difficult task to lead the Department of Anaesthesia at the University Clinic of Plastic Reconstructive Surgery. There I developed anaesthesia management plans for preoperative assessment, anaesthesia and post-operative management of cleft lip and palate babies, and plastic reconstructive surgeries.

I then came to St. Lawrence Hospital, the Welsh Centre for burns and plastic surgery on one rainy autumn day of 1991. I had the ambition of passing all three parts of the Fellow of Royal College of Anaesthetists exams and I needed to stay a bit longer than I initially had planned.

While getting myself ready for my last fellowship exam, I had to read about chronic pain management and it was my endeavour to know and understand complex molecules, receptors and pathways. With a deep understanding of the patient’s needs and being able to evaluate the progression of their conditions, I knew that this was a specialty where I could apply my excellent procedural skills. Fast forward to 1999, I was then appointed as a Director of Pain Clinic/ Consultant Anaesthetist on the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

Why did you choose pain management as your specialty?

I considered pain management the greatest specialty. This is because it incorporates continually evolving and changing basic scientific knowledge, excellent clinical assessment skills, empathy, new and improving interventional techniques, keeping in touch with developments of all medical and surgical specialties as they all treat pain as a symptom. The horizons of pain management medicine are vast.

In 2007 the Faculty of Pain Medicine was established, standing proud and rubbing shoulders with faculties that were established decades ago. How to incorporate basic science, clinical guidance into patient care has always been a challenge. Therefore I've made a great effort in teaching anaesthetic trainees on how to assess and manage difficult patients with acute, acute-on-chronic or chronic pain to provide patients with a better quality of life along with improved physical and mental functions.

What makes studying with Learna | Diploma MSc different?

Our pain management courses have done a wonderful job in educating a host of health care professionals. The Postgraduate Diploma in Pain Management was a new unique concept of teaching pain management medicine through clinically rich case scenarios. Those are continuously encountered in clinical practice and authored by the same clinicians.

Multidisciplinary discussion of the case, attaching it to scientific papers with essential readings, discussing the relevant guidance on national or international level, linking it to the healthcare system and provision of services was a unique concept and true representation of clinical practice.

Having my international background in medicine, I truly understand the wealth of experience an individual health care professional can gain combining the best of different healthcare systems. Pain management is a collective work and having the students to work in groups and individually, makes it an interesting, interactive, supportive and intellectually enriching experience with lasting effects.

An online course promotes cooperation between people from different continents, nations, regions and makes them a group of fellow workers in a bespoke manner. Each of the students’ posts is answered individually but the logic and wisdom of the tutor’s response is shared by everyone.

How do you support your students with the course being online?

Our tutors are busy clinicians, practising or teaching pain management medicine, deeply involved in solving most challenging clinical cases on a daily basis. All of them are passionate about teaching and holding up the baton of education and making sure there is a succession in the process - I am just one of them.

As the Programme Leader for this course, I am very happy to see its progress and the benefit it has awarded to numerous health professionals from different specialities, countries and continents. The pain management course allows you to live your life and offers an amazing journey through basic science, definitions, types of pain, special populations, pain management strategies and different service provisions to enable us to practice pain management medicine for the benefit of all our patients.

I welcome you on board!