Suzanne Borowski, MD: Regional VP – DC/NJ

St. Elizabeths Hospital, Psychiatry

I have seen my colleagues empowered to address problems because they know that they have representatives whose voices will be heard. Becoming part of CIR was also instrumental in ensuring our residents had living wages by establishing a competitive salary and benefits.

It wasn’t until residency that I learned about CIR and the impact it had on my program. Being a member of CIR has shown me the importance of supporting residents and the impact it has on them professionally and personally. The security of having a negotiated contract and the means to safely voice complaints changes the work environment for the better. Residents who feel supported can better focus on their professional training and personal well-being, both of which must be in balance for someone to not just survive, but thrive.

I would like to see CIR improve in addressing resident wellness. I am excited that the topic of wellness is being addressed by CIR, but I think it needs to go deeper and hit on heavier topics like resident suicide, toxic residency programs, and aspects of the current healthcare system that drive residents beyond burnout. We need to talk about the real issues of depression, anxiety, and substance use among our fellow physicians in an open and compassionate way. The idea that addressing wellness could be literally lifesaving to our colleagues is a strong uniting factor nationally.

I would like to see more physicians engaged in our current healthcare system at the state and national level. Through many conversations with physicians about health policies, we’ve generally concluded that the main issue is that people making policies are disconnected from what they look like in widespread practice. We need more political leaders with direct patient care experience to help construct policies rooted in realism and compassion. There’s no better place to start opening these doors than residency, in my opinion.

I come from a family who has been in the United Automobile Workers since its founding. As a young child, I knew the security of a family with a parent in a labor union. It wasn’t until residency that I saw just how hard-won the process of unionizing could be and the full impact it could have on workers, their families, and the job they do.

At a time when unions are being attacked, it is more important than ever to remind colleagues of what is at risk if they aren’t organized, protected, and empowered. CIR can be a leading example, showing the impact that unionizing has on medical residents that is passed on through patient care, research initiatives, and policy reform.

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The Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare is the oldest and largest housestaff union in the country, representing more than 16,000 interns, residents, and fellows in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington, D.C.

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