Thousands of medical residents are unionizing. Here’s what that means for doctors, hospitals, and the patients they serve

Kaley Kinnamon, MD, still remembers the many challenges of being a new doctor when COVID-19 was raging through her hospital. “We were expected to do much more,” says Kinnamon, now a second-year neurology resident at the University of Vermont Medical (UVM) Center in Burlington. “We were having to take on a lot more patients — and a lot sicker patients.”

And though Kinnamon appreciated that the hospital was also battling tremendous challenges, she was disappointed that it failed to offer residents such supports as additional compensation and help with childcare.

“A lot that was happening during COVID made me want to advocate more vocally for what residents need. I saw unionizing as a powerful way to do that,” she says.

Many of her colleagues at UVM shared that sentiment, and on April 14, they voted to launch a residents union there.

These trainees joined a growing number of medical residents — sometimes known as house staff — who have unionized across the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. read more