Since becoming an active member my intern year, I have seen the power a strong CIR chapter can have. In my 4 years at Jackson, our resident involvement has increased across the board. We have active members in more specialties than ever before due to the strength we have shown to have as a united front. We have had many financial wins – negotiating competitive raises and increases in educational stipends. However, more importantly, have been our non-monetary gains all involved in building and developing a partnership with our health system. Our hospital has come to value our Residents and Fellows, acknowledging that we are key players in the quality and efficiency of the health system. We have resident leaders involved in community outreach, advocacy, wellness, minority physician recruitment and representation, and quality improvement initiatives within their departments and hospital-wide, which are directly impacting training and patient care. Our CIR residents are becoming strong and educated leaders in our field. This is providing additional value to the work that we do, allowing us to feel more accomplished and directly involved in the outcomes of our patients.
Over the years, my work with CIR has provided me with leadership skills and has taught me about negotiation, bargaining, working hand in hand with administration, as well as about networking, health policy, and advocacy work. All of the skills I have obtained have made me a stronger and well-rounded physician.
CIR has different needs at the local and national levels, as each chapter varies greatly within itself. As we continue to work towards becoming an effective national voice for residents, we must continue to expand our representation. In this last year, we have become very involved in California and CIR is now 15,000+ residents strong. We should continue to work towards partnering with other well-known physician organizations whose ideals align with ours. In that way, we enhance our access and communication with more training programs, giving us the opportunity to reach out to more residents. Many resident physicians are unaware of their ability to unionize, it’s all about education in this arena to build our presence and to continue to empower residents.
Over this last year with our recommitment campaign, we have learned the importance of speaking to our members and educating them about our union and the strength we carry as a united front. We have seen the difference in our chapters where residents are aware of the strength they carry within CIR and are truly empowered. This can be compared to other chapters where there is work to be done in making sure our residents are educated and understand how to efficiently organize and advocate for themselves and their patients. Sometimes in the day to day, it’s very easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. We all feel over-worked and underappreciated at some point or another. We are looking for meaning in what we do, and I have seen the change CIR can have on the individual. We should take the information we have gained through this campaign to work on strengthening our current chapters. I would love to visit as many of our chapters as possible and speak with our members directly in order to accomplish this.
With the current attacks on organized labor, we should continue to support our union brothers and sisters. These last few years we have participated in various campaigns with SEIU, supporting our healthcare workers. This November, we are leading into a very important election season. We should, as a union, invest time and resources into endorsing candidates who support organized labor, advocate for worker’s rights, as well as addressing healthcare disparities. These are actions that will not only strengthen our union, but will also impact our patients and the care we provide.