A journey has been made through Norwegian literature of the last century for the purpose of presenting to the readers of this journal what is to be found of literature describing doctors. The purpose was also to find literary interpretations of the historical evolution of the doctor's role. A characteristic common to all the doctors in the study is that they all suffer from various personal problems such as neuroses, drug abuse, overindulgence in alcohol, family problems, loneliness, maltreatment of children, suicide or murder. A closer study of the description of six local doctors shows small changes in work structure and social relations during the century, but more popular behaviour is found in the portrayal of more modern characters. Good and rich portraits of doctors in Norwegian literature are rare. Those that are found have been created to describe personal or social problems rather than to tell especially what it is like to be a doctor.
The scientific study of the sexual dynamics that come into play during residency training seems to both fascinate and repel trainees and their supervisors. One of the more provocative and shameful dimensions of this area of inquiry, the abuse of residents, causes a good deal of distress. How do we respond to findings of significant psychological abuse, discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation and sexual harassment in medical settings? How can we ignore over a decade of research? How can we not heed the experience of so many young physicians? Given the uncertain times in Canadian medicine and the insecurity in our professional and personal lives, we must work together to improve the culture of our teaching institutions and implement measures nationally and locally to close this dark chapter.
BACKGROUND: In 2002 the Norwegian Board of Health made a survey of the accessibility of general practitioners in Troms county in North Norway. MATERIAL AND METHODS: In a telephone interview one secretary in each surgery informed about telephone response time, planned time for telephone consultations, recorded numbers of urgent consultations, and waiting time to obtain a routine consultation. RESULTS: On average, the planned telephone time was two hours per week. Telephone time was in inverse proportion to the number of patients on the doctor's list. Rural doctors spent twice as much time as urban colleagues on the telephone with their patients. Doctors with lists between 500 and 1500 patients had a higher proportion of urgent consultations compared with doctors with shorter or longer lists. INTERPRETATION: Telephone response time below two minutes and waiting times for routine consultations below 20 days appear to be within acceptable norms. When patient lists are above 1500, doctors' capacity to offer telephone contact and emergency services to their patients seems reduced.