The Physicians Called for Health Equity at New England’s Largest Level One Trauma Center at Thursday “Unity Break” Event
Boston–On the heels of last month’s historic union election of resident physicians and fellows at Mass General Brigham–one of the largest union elections in the U.S. this year–union resident physicians at Boston Medical Center spoke out in the hundreds Thursday afternoon for a fair contract. Represented by the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIRSEIU), the doctors cite extreme work hours and rampant burnout while working at the center of patient care in the city’s largest safety net hospital. They say a living wage and other core proposals will help ensure BMC can attract physicians who reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
“We came here because we’re passionate about this work, and it’s crucial that we are able to continue providing amazing care to our patients, many of whom have complex health issues resulting from systemic oppression,” said Dr. Lucy Witchell. “But we are stretching ourselves beyond our breaking points under our current conditions. We are asking for BMC to join us in making sure that we are rested as we care for our patients and that physicians who come out of these same communities can afford to do their residency here.”
The residents, who in some cases are forced to take on other jobs to make ends meet, are calling for pay competitive to other local residency programs, a living stipend, an adequate parking allowance, fair compensation for extra shifts, and other measures to help lessen their financial stress as they work sometimes 80 hours per week.
They were joined at the unity break on Thursday by Boston City Council President Ed Flynn, Councilor Liz Breadon, and At-Large Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune, along with members of 1199SEIU, the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the Boston Teachers Union, UFCW, Community Labor United, the Democratic Socialists of America, and PUEBLO.
“All our healthcare workers, especially medical interns, residents and fellows, work extremely hard and long hours every day,” said Council President Flynn. “They deserve a living wage and to be treated fairly and with respect.”
“When I first came to the US from Northern Ireland, my first job as a physical therapist was with BMC’s predecessor, Boston University Medical Center Hospital. I’m proud to stand with the amazing CIR physicians of BMC as they articulate what they need to help themselves and their patients thrive,” said Councilor Breadon. “BMC has a historic responsibility to fulfill its mission, and that starts with fair contracts for all the healthcare workers who ensure that care at BMC is exceptional for everyone who needs it.”
“Ensuring that working class physicians of color can work at BMC is a matter of health justice because we know that patient outcomes are improved when they’re seen by doctors who come from their communities,” said Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune. “It shouldn’t be impossible to go into medicine if you don’t have access to familial wealth.”
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 30,000 resident physicians and fellows. Our members are dedicated to improving residency training and education, advancing patient care, and expanding healthcare access for our communities.