Danish hospitals face serious issue: Less interest in the nursing profession

By Andrine Gald Myklebust

Never ending queues, waiting lists and nurses in despair. Danish hospitals are now facing the consequences of a healthcare system in desperate need of nurses.

Bispebjerget Hospital in Copenhagen is one of the hospitals in need of more nurses. Photo: Andrine Gald Myklebust

– Less nurses means less hands to help, says nursing student Ida Bang Andersen about the current situation in the Danish Healthcare system.

According to this years applicant numbers, Ida`s concern seems reasonable.

After several years of stabile applicant numbers, 2022 showed a different truth. Numbers from this year`s applicants show a serious decrease with 28% less applicants for the nursing studies in Denmark. Bispebjerget Hospital is no exeption:

If you go for a 20 minutes drive from the city of Copenhagen you will end up at one of the busiest hospitals of Denmark. Hundreds of patients waiting for their name to be called in small waiting rooms, doctors running around with stethoscopes and irritable receptionists calming down desperate people on the phone.

After all, it is great to know that when the accident first happens, doctors and nurses will happily contribute to help as fast as possible, but this is no longer the case.

Even with 3000 employees, the busy hospital of Copenhagen is no exeption from the national issue: They still need more nurses. And after this years applicant numbers, the problem does not seem to end quite yet.

Infographic: Andrine Gald Myklebust

Ida and her fellow students are well aware of the current problems. Together with nearly 5000 others, Ida started her journey towards being an important part of the Danish Healthcare System just a year ago. Now, she worries for the future of her soon-to-be profession:

It`s such a sad tendency that fewer people apply for the nursing studies. There is already a lack of staff at the hospitals, and many of the departments are in need of a helping hand, says Ida.

Ida Bang Andersen is worried for the future of the nurses. Photo: Private

The problem, however, is nothing new. Already three years ago, Denmark`s Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen made a promise to end the ongoing situation. Increased support, better conditions and a greater focus on the importance of the Health Care system was some of the statements. Now, three years later, the situation has stagnated and is slowly moving the wrong way, according to the newest numbers.

Low wages, an unstable welfare system and the aftermath of the corona pandemic is only some of the reasons Ida can think of as why less people apply for her dream study. Despite the conditions, Ida is not planning to quit, but is truly sure something has to change:

I understand some might have been frightened, and it is not an easy task to attract new students when even the educated ones doesn´t even want to work anymore. We need higher wages, better conditions and more helping hands.