Should ER Physicians Unionize?

Should ER Physicians Unionize?


Are Unions a solution to a growing problem in the medical industry?

Most doctors graduate medical school with a debt load between $350,000 - $400,000, sometimes more. To put that into perspective… Assume you get a 1.04% interest loan and pay the loan back over a course of 10 years. That means that as a doctor, not only do you have to feed yourself and your family, find a place to live and a form of transportation, you also must come up with $3,511.11 a month to help pay for your student loans!

Perhaps you have a partner that can cover all the housing costs, feed you and provide transportation, you still need a minimum salary of $42,134 just to cover your student loans. While $42,134 would cover your loan, it won't cover the taxes taken from your salary or other insurance-related fees you have to pay. Talk about walking into the fire as soon as you enter the job market.

Doctor-salaries.com presents an average annual salary range for ER physicians as $104,634 to $396,672. While this seems reasonably higher than the necessary income to cover student loans, there are some ER positions that pay less than $96,000 per year. The most disturbing statistic is the starting salary of $43,631 that some physicians accepted in 2018. How is that salary possibly covering their student loan payments, and how are those doctors paying for living expenses? There is also significant data showing that female emergency room physicians have a 14% pay gap from their male counterparts. Why are women physicians treated this way?

Searching Glassdoor.com will give more depth into starting salaries, CVS Health has reported ER Doctor positions paying $25/$27 per hour!  At that salary rate, you would need to work more than 40 hours a week just to come close to paying your student loan debt. How could you expect to get a qualified medical professional at that rate?

In 2018 there were 130 million ER visits per year according to the CDC statistics, and of those only 35 million are due to injury, 16.2 million require hospital admission and 2.3 million require critical care. The scariest CDC report is the time allotted for ER physicians to see patients. It appears that on average 43.5% of physicians are spending fewer than 15 minutes with their patients. How can you possibly build a rapport, do an evaluation, and expect to solve a problem in less than 15 minutes? 

Ask yourself, how can we change the pay scale for ER physicians, ensure that they are allotted adequate time to see patients and aren’t forced to move from their chosen area just to afford student loan debt? Unions have classically given voices to groups of people who would be subjected to the whims of big business. Could unionization work in the medical industry? Those questions and more are what TakeEMBack hopes to address at their conference on 9/27-28/2021.

Sneak Peek of Day 1 Conference Lineup:

  • When Emergency Medicine Fails: A survivor’s Story
  • Private Equity in Emergency Medicine: How Did We Get Here?
  • Moral Injury and Losing a Profession
  • Corporate Medicine and the Silencing of Healthcare Workers
  • Private Equity and Radiology
  • Raising A Coalition Army against the Corporate Practice of Medicine
  • Workshop - Doctors Council on Unionizing
  • Workshop - Patient Self-Defense
  • Workshop – Build-A-Unicorn
  • Private Equity and the Pillaging of Medicine, a History
  • America’s Safety Net: Victims of Our Own Success – A brief history of emergency medicine
  • Stop Wall Street Looting Act – Reigning in Private Equity
  • Screening: Take Medicine Back – The Film Sneak Peek Trailer
  • What does an authentic locally-owned democratic ER group look like?
  • Top 10 Lessons in Advocacy from Dermatology
  • What does the American College of Emergency Physicians Need to Do?
  • Townhall Discussion on ACEP’s last opportunity to stand up to Corporate Medicine – join the conversation!

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