Fed Up Rutgers Physicians Speak Out at University Hospital for Fair Contract 


As Faculty Threaten to Go Back on Strike, Rutgers Resident Physicians and Fellows Held a “Unity Break” to Call for a Living Wage and Urgent Mental Healthcare Benefits

Newark, NJ–Dozens of Rutgers resident physicians and fellows came together at New Jersey Medical School/ University Hospital Thursday to demand a fair contract after more than eight months of bargaining with the university. Represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR), the 1100 physicians say that with their current pay and amid severe understaffing in their hospitals, they are struggling to maintain their own well-being while working up to 80-hour weeks at the center of care at essential facilities like University Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. 

Their core demands include a living wage with a salary adjustment to address the fact that they are structurally underpaid by the university, and benefits including mental healthcare, transportation and education funds, and healthcare from day one for incoming physicians. 

“It feels ridiculous and insulting, frankly, that Rutgers is still denying us proposals that would cost them relatively little and that would make such a difference in our lives every day,” said Dr. Tzeidel Eichenberg. “We’re passionate about providing the best care to our patients, but we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our well-being or major life milestones to complete our medical training at Rutgers.” 

The physicians were joined by Assembly Member Britnee Timberlake, New Jersey State Senators Linda Greenstein and Joe Vitale, and members of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees Union (HPAE) and HPAE President Debbie White. 

With long hours, inadequate pay and student loan debt that averages over $250,000 a year, resident physicians face some of the highest rates of burnout and depression among workers in any field. The Rutgers doctors say a fair contract is necessary for them to maintain quality patient care–which is particularly important at facilities like University Hospital, where many of their patients already face steep barriers to care–as well as for the university to attract new physicians to New Jersey who reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. 

“We don’t need studies to understand that it would benefit patients for their doctors to be able to afford their lives, and to see a therapist to address their own mental health needs,” said Dr. Eichenberg. “Rutgers has a real responsibility not just to resident physicians and fellows but to the people of New Jersey to agree to a fair contract with CIR and with all of its unions.” 

The Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) is the largest house staff union in the United States. A local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing over 25,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.