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‘More than half of my paycheck goes to rent’: young US doctors push to unionise

Young doctors just out of medical school working as resident physicians, fellows and interns at major US hospitals are organising unions at an increasing rate, citing long-running problems highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic and a need to rethink the struggles young doctors face in the profession.

The Committee of Interns and Residents, an affiliate of SEIU, added five unionised sites in 2022 compared with about one a year before the pandemic and the surge has continued in 2023 with multiple union election filings. It currently represents over 25,000 residents, fellows and interns across the US, comprising about 15% of all resident and fellow physicians.

Hospital management has opposed the unionisation effort, declining to voluntarily recognise the union, encouraging residents not to sign union authorisation cards ahead of the election filing and writing local op-eds in opposition to unionisation.

Since going public with their union plans, staff have been sent emails and been invited to meetings to try to dissuade residents from unionising, “often counting on myths around what unionizing would mean”, said Dr Sascha Murillo, a third-year internal medicine resident at Massachusetts general hospital.

The unionising campaign took off after vulnerabilities in the healthcare system were exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, she said, with residents working on the frontlines and bearing the brunt of staffing shortages, an influx of Covid-19 patients, and patients who deferred medical care.

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Source: The Guardian, 27 April 2023


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