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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 April 28; 334(7599): 864.
PMCID: PMC1857747
Shift Work

The view from Denmark

Shariha Khalid Erichsen, clinical fellow, plastic surgery

As a junior doctor I worked all the different work rotas imaginable, both full time and flexibly, over the past seven years—from on-call rota to full shift—and in three countries (the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and now Denmark).1 Now I work full time in Denmark but just 37 hours a week, maybe 40 on a bad week, and this includes on-call hours.

How does the Danish public health system function with such reduced doctors' working hours? Perhaps it is because Denmark has more doctors (they are still looking for more), and doctors are more efficient at time keeping during an average working day. The department I work in performs over 200 cleft cases and150 free breast flaps in a year, plus all the skin cancer cases and burns injuries. These figures are similar to those of London teaching hospitals.

The downside? The training takes longer, but who cares if you can still have a good social and family life as well as enjoy your work? And there is no special treatment for women either: both parents are entitled to a shared maternity or paternity leave of up to nine months.


Competing interests: None declared.


1. Ahmed-Little Y. Implications of shift work for junior doctors. BMJ 2007;334:777-8. (14 April.) [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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