In my three years involved with CIR, I have witnessed the betterment of both residents and their patients. Specifically through working in QI, I have seen residents – some completely unexposed to quality improvement, such as myself – become involved in developing the care delivered to patients through their active involvement in growing quality improvement ideas (i.e. reducing needle stick injuries).
Hosting clinics, CIR funding, and being around dedicated mentors who are there to support and teach residents in regard to quality improvement has been truly eye opening for me. Together with other departments, Harlem Hospital has reduced CAUTI rates, reduced needle stick rates, and improved the follow up with pediatric asthma patients – all this was done within one year! This has resulted in not only more involved and motivated residents, but also decreased morbidity and harm to our patient – supporting the underlying reason for and purpose of medicine. Having a union so dedicated to this goal is reason enough for me to join.
Recently, an older surgeon regaled my fellow residents and I with a story of how he as a young resident marched to the HCC headquarters with placards in hand along with his colleagues. The response proceeding from his actions was that anyone who had participated in the protest was to be terminated. His story continued – emphasizing the fear and trepidation he felt in regard to the threat of potentially being fired. Fortunately, the power of the union coming together prevented termination and in fact resulted in winning the conflict that was occurring. In the word of this older surgeon, “That was the power of CIR”.
We as residents are often made to feel as if we are at the bottom of the totem pole. Everyone knows the nurses, housekeeping staff, and even the attending physicians have their own unions. Many individuals are surprised to know that we too have a union – a union of over 14,000 members strong with residents expanding across the nation. Being a member of CIR has shown me the real strength we have in numbers – that we as residents really do have a voice – and that our voice as a united entity is one to be reckoned with. From bargaining for increasing wages, adherence to duty hours, or helping to make certain legislature, I have come to realize the strength in our union and am excited to be an active further part of its collaboration.
I would like to concentrate strongly on advocacy – whereupon we the members focus on getting the name of CIR ‘out there’. All the other unions proudly show off their membership, and I believe that is precisely what CIR needs to do more of to spread awareness for our union – making others know that we too have a respected union with a voice. Nurses are well recognized in their efforts to do this. We need to follow in their footsteps – wearing the pins, pens and other items proudly. Ultimately, this will make our presence (in regard to our numbers, our unity, and what we stand for) more visible to the members within our own hospitals, other hospitals around the country, and throughout the medical industry as a whole.
The life of a resident is not an easy one. It consists of grueling hours, disproportionate wages for the time served, and so on. Having a union with set rules and guidelines that our employers have to adhere to helps to mitigate some of these hardships – not to mention paving the way for legal backing when necessary. The recent inclusion of Howard into our union was a wonderful expansion. Being at the first convention – which included this new hospital – and being able to show them just a small sampling of the large membership and all we stood for and have achieved was a great experience.
Advocacy is something I enjoy and strongly believe in – being able to talk to new and potential members while relaying the benefits of CIR accompanied by my own personal experiences thus far is something that comes easy and freely to me. This is made even easier by the fact that in advocating for ourselves, we are advocating for our patients in being able to provide a happier and more educated resident body. I believe residency can be tough, but ultimately it is a finite experience – and one we as residents should enjoy and be given what we deem as fair treatment. CIR aims to make this residency process more level – hence my passion for being involved and getting others involved in CIR as well.