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Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2019 Nov 18;139(17). doi: 10.4045/tidsskr.19.0185. Print 2019 Nov 19.

Medical students' attitudes and expectations for future working conditions.

[Article in English, Norwegian]



The doctors' strike in 2016 highlighted an ongoing debate on the tightening of working conditions for doctors. With this strike as a backdrop, we wanted to investigate the attitudes and expectations for future working conditions among medical students.


Four focus-group interviews with a total of 21 medical students (48 % women, age 21-38 years) in their third to sixth year of study were conducted and analysed with the aid of systematic text condensation.


The students described how the doctors' efforts to help each other had a positive effect on the working environment, but might also paradoxically worsen the working conditions of the collegial community. They highlighted the importance of consensus around public health services, a good professional community and idealism, but perceived that these aspects could be threatened by competition for positions and distrust in political governance processes. The need to be competent and succeed in competing for temporary jobs, as well as a strong motivation to become a doctor, made the students vulnerable to accepting tough working conditions. The students' attitudes and expectations had mainly been formed through work placement experience and by family members, but the strike had impacted particularly the older cohorts' assessment of their future working situation.


Medical students express concerns about accepting entry into a system that they are not immediately able to change, and where safeguarding their own needs and a favourable work-life balance might be difficult. This has implications for raising awareness of these issues during the medical studies and developing an organisational culture that ensures justifiable and sustainable working conditions for doctors.

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