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UCSD resident physicians protest over low wages and unfair hospital contract

"We work 80 to 100 hours a week without overtime pay. When you break down our salary by the hours a first-time resident makes little more than minimum wage."


After being on the frontlines of the pandemic, UCSD resident physicians feel their current working conditions threaten their physical wellbeing. 

On Wednesday afternoon, over 100 doctors and nurses attended a rally as a series of actions protesting hospital administration’s refusal to negotiate a fair contract. Several resident physicians spoke about their frustrations and personal experiences working for UCSD hospitals.  

“Many residents have families. I am personally aware of residents that can’t afford to buy hospital cafeteria food and know another who is potentially facing eviction because they can’t afford to pay rent,” shared Sean Li, a sixth-year plastic surgery resident.  

A resident is a medical school graduate and doctor in training. Today, they are asking for access to affordable food, enough sleep and a commitment from the hospital to their wellbeing. The resident physicians of UCSD, represented by the San Diego House Staff Association and the Committee of Interns and Residents, have been without a contract since July 1, 2021.  

“These physicians are still on the frontlines of the COVID crisis. We work 80 to 100 hours a week without overtime pay. When you break down our salary by the hours we work, a first-time resident makes little more than minimum wage,” said Li. 

In a prepared statement, the hospital said: 

UC San Diego Health adheres to all Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (AGCME) guidelines for appropriate work duty hours and requirements. UC San Diego Health prioritizes the safety and well-being of all its team members and has been a national leader in protecting its team members by offering CDC-approved PPE protocols and equipment. We are also among the first health systems in the nation to offer comprehensive COVID-19 testing and vaccination programs for all team members. 

UC San Diego is in the process of contract negotiations with the union representing resident physicians and has offered a robust package that features substantial economic increases and non-economic commitments; among them: a 3-year contract with year-over-year pay increases, increased housing and education stipends, increased meal allowances and the creation of a Resident Physician Wellness Committee.” 

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