Physicians are moving to unionize: Where and when

As hospitals and health systems face financial challenges and workforce shortages, they are seeing physicians seek representation at the bargaining table.

A number of factors are driving the trend. Physicians are seeking greater investments by hospitals in working conditions, staffing and other resources needed to provide patient care. Hospitals and health systems, meanwhile, emphasize their commitment to quality care and these professionals during a challenging time in healthcare. They also express their preference to work directly with workers.

Among the latest examples is George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where resident physicians are moving to unionize, citing pandemic burnout.

Residents employed by George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences seek to join the Committee of Interns and Residents, a local of the Service Employees International Union. They announced their intention to form a union on March 1.

Medical residents and fellows at Somerville, Mass.-based Mass General Brigham are also preparing to organize a housestaff union.

In a Twitter announcement March 9, they said they are "working to build collective power to advocate for a just, safe and equitable MGB for all housestaff, workers and patients." 

If housestaff unionize, more than 2,500 residents and fellows at MGB hospitals would join the Committee of Interns and Residents, according to The Boston Globe. This includes trainees at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Mass Eye and Ear, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Salem Hospital, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston.

Additionally, resident physicians and fellows at Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania Health System seek to form a union. The Feb. 21 filing seeks an election to vote on representation by the Committee of Interns and Residents. The union would represent about 1,500 interns, residents, chief residents and fellows.

And a combined 1,600 physicians from Loma Linda (Calif.) University Health and the University at Buffalo (N.Y.) filed petitions in February with the National Labor Relations Board to join the Union of American Physicians and Dentists.

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