As resident physicians, we know firsthand how the culture of retaliation in academic medicine can isolate and intimidate. As a union, we stand in solidarity with Dr. Kristin Carmody, who recently filed a lawsuit against NYU Langone. Her lawsuit alleges that NYU Langone discriminated against her because she supported resident and union colleagues who advocated for hazard pay, publicly challenged systemic racism, and fought for gender equity in medicine. The suit describes in detail the institution’s alleged retaliation against residents, including “blacklisting” or making it difficult or impossible to get a job or fellowship after training. This conduct, if true, is deplorable — no hospital should ever penalize physicians and other healthcare workers for advocating for the human rights of their colleagues and the patients they serve. Dr. Carmody’s lawsuit is a prime example of why unionization for resident physicians is so critical. Anytime an institution threatens to undertake the “blacklisting” of individual resident physicians and deprive them of their rights as employees, it is an attack against us all.
On September 24, 2021, CIR leaders testified before the New York City Council Committee on Hospitals about the drivers of poor physician well-being including: systemic inequities in healthcare, grueling hours, low pay, cultures of bullying, and retaliation against residents for advocating for their patients and themselves. Among other programs, we testified to the deplorable actions within the NYU/Bellevue Emergency Medicine program. For example, the decision to no longer have interns practice in the Bellevue ED is damaging to the education of all residents in the program and causing moral injury. NYU’s attitude not only impedes our ability to truly change overwhelming inequities in our system that literally end in early and preventable deaths for people of color, women and working class communities, but it allows hospitals to reward physicians for promoting discriminatory practices and supporting a culture of elitism. Institutions like NYU Langone should be ashamed of their treatment of frontline healthcare workers. They should be fighting to make a more just healthcare system, rather than embrace a system that is segregated, puts profit over patients, prioritizes the wealthiest patients and diverts the most vulnerable (often people of color, uninsured immigrants) to an overburdened public hospital system. We stand in solidarity with Dr. Carmody and all residents and attending physicians who advocate for a more just healthcare system for patients and residents.