For residents who are not members and leaders of their own housestaff union, the value of forming one is illusive. It may be hard for you to fathom how residents find the time to work with colleagues they barely know and have little interaction to build an organization. But being a part of CIR, allows you to see beyond the daily grind of residency to how you can impact the bigger picture of where our medical educational system is and where it is headed.
“I want to be in the room when discussing quality improvement.”
“I want to get involved in expanding access to healthcare.”
“We need an educational allowance to enhance our training.”
“I can’t afford to pay for health insurance and medical loans at the same time.”
“Why do we have to do so much scut work ?!”
“We need new equipment in our clinics.”
All of these are reasons why residents put in a call to CIR to form a housestaff union. But many residents aren’t even aware they can form a union.
One of the three pillars of CIR’s mission is new organizing. This means supporting residents who are not currently members of a chapter in starting one of their own. For us, this entails allocating a portion of our dues money to provide the technical support and staff assistance needed for residents to organize a chapter.
Why do we do this? Simply, we love our programs and care deeply about our patients’ health and well-being. Those of us who have joined the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) have found that forming a union is the best way to have an effective voice at work and develop solutions to issues and problems at our hospitals. And we know that having more residents join our organization will make us stronger in the long run.
Forming a CIR chapter is really a call to action to think through how you will practice medicine for the rest of your career. It’s a chance to stand together with your colleagues and speak out for change. As physician leaders, we have the power to change the course of our own practices. Even greater, we possess the power to change the way health care is delivered in this country; however, we need more doctors to be physician advocates. We need to organize so that our voices are heard.