Kern Resident Physicians Win Long Overdue Salary Increase


July 14, 2021
Press Contact: Tricia Piper-Bennett
P: (415) 914-5511 

Kern Resident Physicians Win Long Overdue Salary Increase
Resident and Fellow physicians secure historic contract shedding the title of California’s lowest paid residency program

Bakersfield, CA – Starting August 1, 2021, after a historic contract win, Kern Medical Center’s Resident and Fellow physicians will no longer be the lowest paid in California. The new contract includes a 15% raise in salary over three years, increases and expansions to medical education benefits and a travel benefit for Resident physicians presenting abstracts or research at conferences. 

Dr. Ratha Kulasingam, a 2nd-year Internal Medicine Resident physician, explained what is at stake with this contract: “Without improved benefits, residency programs will struggle to recruit and retain physicians, particularly in areas like Bakersfield where patients already face limited access to healthcare.” 

Kern’s Resident and Fellow physicians, who are members of the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU), came to an agreement with hospital administrators during their final bargaining session at the end of June. On July 2nd, 100% of votes cast elected to ratify the contract. 

“My colleagues and I had a vision for better patient care in the Valley, and we were ready to do the work to make sure that Kern Medical has the sustainable pool of diverse and talented doctors that our community needs,” said Dr. Tyler Wheeler, a 3rd-year Psychiatry Resident physician. 

It quickly became clear to CIR/SEIU members when contract negotiations began in March that hospital management had no plan to offer them benefits on par with their peers in California.  

When management balked at early bargaining sessions, CIR/SEIU members wore pins in solidarity, delivered a letter to the CEO with their concerns about the bargaining process and worked with local media to highlight their experience. Soon the hospital’s CEO, Russel Judd, joined their negotiations and the Resident physicians began to see real progress. 

“This contract is a huge win for Kern Medical Resident and Fellow physicians, as well as for our patients,” Dr. Abdelhamid Dalia, a 3rd-year Emergency Medicine Resident physician, stated following the unanimous vote. “It demonstrates a commitment from hospital management to invest in the doctors at Kern Medical and improve patient care for the Bakersfield community.” 

The Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) is the largest housestaff union in the United States. A local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), representing over 20,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.