History and organizational structure of the Danish Medical Association

DMA History
The first association of Danish doctors was established in 1772 in Copenhagen. This was a scientific society, originally called the Royal Society of Medicine, which is still active under the name of the Copenhagen Medical Society. Outside of Copenhagen, the district medical associations first began to be established in the 1840s.

The Danish Medical Association was established on 1 September 1857. The first Danish hospital law dates back to 1806, but the doctors were not satisfied with the official effort in the field of a health system. The establishment of a Danish medical association was based on the existing lack of hospitals, poor quality of the hospitals which did exist, the need for health care to come within the scope of the local authorities in order to support the efforts of the medical profession, the reformation of medical legislation, and the involvement of the medical profession in the development of these matters. 

In the years following the establishment of the Danish Medical Association, from 1857 up to 1900, local medical associations were set up throughout the nation as subgroups within The DMA. Until 1904, the DMA had an undifferentiated membership including mostly general practitioners and a few chief physicians from amongst the nation's hospitals. 

Craft Associations 
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries to a greater and greater extent, what we call "junior doctors" were being appointed to the hospitals. Junior doctors were persons who were trained as doctors in the universities and who worked in the hospitals as house officers (in-terns), registrars (residents), and senior registrars, not independently, but under the supervision and responsibility of a consultant (head of department). In 1904, the junior doctors acted to form their own medical association which was at first independent of the DMA, but which became a DMA subdivision three years later. 

Still later, in 1934, the medical specialists and, in 1967, the general practitioners, set up their own associations, thus constituting the three different subdivisions or "pillars" or craft organizations which make up the current structure of the Danish Medical Association. 

Historical landmarks in Danish Health and medicine 
1772 First Danish doctors society established.
1806 First Danish public hospital law enacted.
1857 National Danish Medical Association established.
1892 First official legislation enacted regarding voluntary sickness insurance arrangement.
1971 Comprehensive public financed health service enacted. 

Membership and Organizational Structure
Almost all doctors authorized to practice in Denmark are members of the DMA as well as one of the three craft organization subdivisions. The task of the subdivisions - each within its own area of concern - is to look after the members' professional and financial interests. 

The membership of the Association of Junior Hospital Doctors (which, it should be noted, does not refer to age, but rather to hospital training positions beneath the senior, "end position" level) includes hospital house officers (interns) and registrars (residents), senior registrars and staff specialists (afdelingslæger) as well as doctors appointed as university lecturers or to other nonpermanent subordinate positions such as an amanuensis/trainee in general practice. 

Membership in the Organization of General Practitioners in Denmark includes those doctors engaged in general practice for the social security or who in some other way have general practice as their principal occupation such as occupational health doctors outside the public health system and nursing home doctors. 

The Association of Medical Specialists includes senior hospital doctors (consultants or heads of department), specialists with their own private practice in or outside of the hospital and other doctors who are neither junior doctors nor GPs - such as public health doctors. Under the aegis of the Specialist Association, there are 24 "monospecialist" organizations, one for each of the specialities recognized in Denmark. In addition, senior hospital doctors or doctors employed in the civil service also become members of the Danish Association of Senior Hospital Physicians (Overlægeforeningen) which was established in 1992 as an amalgamation of previously existing organizations. 

Local Branch Associations 
DMA members also enroll in the local DMA branch association in the geographical area within which they carry out their principal occupation. In all, there are seven such local associations - one for each of the five Danish regions, one for the Faroe Islands and one for Greenland.

The task of these local branches is to look after the medical profession's interests vis-à-vis the local authorities, the city and Regional Councils and, on the whole, to coordinate the profession's interests within the local sphere. 


Ugeskrift for Læger – The Journal of the Danish Medical Association
Weekly Journal of The Danish Medical Association written in Danish with English summaries and table of contents. Ugeskrift for Læger is Denmark’s main scientific journal within the health and medical fields. It carries articles on scientific, health and social problems as well as serving as an information organ for members of the DMA and its subdivisions. 

The Danish Medicial Journal
The Danish Medical Journal (DMJ) is a general medical journal published by The Danish Medical Association, issued 12 times per year. The journal publish original research in English – conducted in or in relation to the Danish health-care system.

Bibliotek for Læger 
A quarterly journal on the history of Danish medicine - the oldest medical periodical in Denmark - issued four times a year. 

January 2016