Fourth year medical students who match at LA County hospitals this March can look forward to a major salary increase over last year’s starting salary, thanks to a recently settled contract between the LA County’s Department of Health Services and the resident doctors’ union, the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU Healthcare).

“We made a strong case for an increase for first year residents, in order to bring us in line with other resident salaries in our region,” said Dr. Gabe Waterman, a first year resident at LAC+USC and a member of the CIR bargaining team. “A lot of us were attracted to LA County because it’s an incredible learning experience, and now we can have that experience without sacrificing our financial stability.”

In addition to the 10 percent increase over three years that was negotiated with most county labor unions, the first-year residents at LAC+USC and Harbor-UCLA will receive an additional 3 percent increase this year, retroactive to Feb. 1. The hospital and the physicians also agreed to an unprecedented $300,000 fund for resident-driven Quality Improvement initiatives.

“Residents will now be able to do large scale quality improvement projects that will ultimately improve patient care services and safety,” said Dr. Peter Ureste, a psychiatry resident and regional vice president of CIR. “Having financial and mentoring support from LA County executive leadership is an achievement for us all.”

The contract is expected to be ratified by a vote of the members on Feb. 23 and 24 and will go into effect upon approval by the LA County Board of Supervisors.