National Residents’ Union Announces 2017 Campaign to Address the Unhealthy Culture of Residency
Philadelphia, PA – As it marked the union’s 60th anniversary, the House of Delegates for the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare (CIR) voted today to launch a national campaign to improve resident well-being. This effort will focus on the structural forces in residency training that contribute to increased likelihood of depression, burnout, and even suicide among physicians.
The CIR convention in Philadelphia brought together 200 physicians-in-training, alumni and guests to set the union’s agenda for the next year and cement the union’s status as the national voice for housestaff. As they looked back at CIR’s progress since its founding in 1957, residents recognized dramatic improvements in many areas, as well as many themes that have endured through the decades.
The resolution passed by the delegates at the convention identifies multiple factors that contribute to a resident physician’s well-being, including the nature and intensity of the work, working conditions, and his or her ability to bring about meaningful change in broken systems.
The resolution also aims to improve patient safety and quality of care, because patients suffer when their physicians are overtired, burned out or ill-equipped to change dysfunctional systems of care.
“There is no shortage of discussion on this topic within academic medicine. But what we have noticed is that time and again, the burden is placed on residents to improve our own well-being,” said CIR President Dr. Eve Kellner. “The answer is not for us to be more aware of our fatigue, or to exercise, or to eat healthier. We cannot expect to reverse the epidemic of physician burnout and suicide unless we actually change the system that is making people sick.”
CIR members are using their collective voice in their hospitals to negotiate for more time outside the hospital, and to minimize non-educational work so they can devote their working hours on direct patient care and education. They are bargaining for concrete support and resources like childcare funds, wellness committees, and security measures to keep residents safe, as well as securing time off and improved scheduling.
To read the full resolution, visit https://www.cirseiu.org/wellbeingresolution/