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Danish doctors stopped teaching from Eastern Europe

Published on 2023-10-20 22.42

Danish chief medical officer Else Marie Damsgaard has stopped recruiting doctors trained in Eastern Europe.

She didn’t think it was working as half the staff was trained abroad.

– She says: – It was as if some people got their identities into the machine.

In Denmark, doctors trained in Eastern Europe receive an automatic license in principle, just as in Sweden. But a medical certificate does not mean a guaranteed job. At least not in Denmark.

In our neighboring country, some hospital wards are hiring doctors with foreign education, says Professor Else-Marie Damsgaard.

– Obviously there are departments that choose a doctor from Denmark, if they have three applications from Eastern Europe and two from Denmark, she said.

Until 2018, she led the Department of Geriatrics at Aarhus University Hospital. When half of the department’s doctors were foreign-educated – 10 out of 20 – it simply stopped hiring more.

In 2019, she explained why in a documentary on Danmarks Radio, Dr.

– 50 percent is too much. It can’t be more than 25% foreign doctors, that would be completely wrong. Damsgaard said at the time that there should be a large number of Danish doctors so that foreigners could obtain theoretical and practical training.


The documentary was about the fact that the number of foreign-educated specialist doctors in Denmark has increased almost tenfold, from 159 to 1,500 in two decades. In many departments, half of the doctors were trained abroad.

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When Aftonbladet contacted Ilse Marie Damsgaard four years later, she said:

The department benefited from the decrease in the number of foreign doctors, Damsgaard points out.

Small hospitals can have staffing problems, she says, and that leads to taking what you can get.

– The problem is that when you have a very high percentage of foreign-educated doctors, the burden on the Danish doctors who are supposed to supervise them is very high.

“it’s incomprehensible”

It also received complaints from its employees.

– Then I thought, “Did this doctor print his ID into the machine?” It was understood that their education was far from meeting the standards found in our universities, says Damsgaard.

What do you think about the fact that people educated in Eastern Europe almost automatically get a license in Sweden or Denmark when they are approved in Eastern Europe?

It is incomprehensible, why are they not tested or examined? As Danish doctors, we can’t just go to the United States and work as doctors, we also have to get tested, otherwise we won’t be able to work in the United States. So it’s a bit strange that you can come and start working here.

She confirms that many foreign-educated doctors are very good, but not all of them.

When there are problems, it is often due to a combination of lack of education, poor language skills and a different cultural background, she says.

When DR’s documentary featuring her critical statements aired in 2019, she received many cheers from her colleagues, who thought she was right:

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“I think the program helped alert a number of managers to the fact that you should not hire a doctor who is not fully qualified in terms of language just because you have a vacancy,” says Else-Marie Damsgaard, who is now a professor at Aarhus University Hospital.

More places on the course

When I left the geriatrics department in 2019, five of the doctors – 25 percent – ​​had been trained abroad. At present, the department is headed by Chief Physician Catherine Horslev-Foss:

-We actually don’t have a single foreign-educated doctor at the moment. She organized herself.

One important reason is that the number of places on Danish medical courses has increased in recent years, among other things as a response to the shortage of specialist doctors with Danish education. Therefore, the proportion of foreign-educated specialist doctors in many Danish hospital departments today is lower than it was four years ago:

– The problem has become less, says Harald Flohr, chief physician at the Neurology Clinic at Sønderjelland Hospital.