Regular readers of Resident Forum may recall that we have presented
several columns about the formation of housestaff organizations to help residents
collectively negotiate with their teaching institutions. This continues to
be a top priority of the American Medical Association-Resident Physicians
Section (AMA-RPS). We recently completed our first manual on the topic and
are preparing an educational program for the AMA Interim Meeting in December.
The manual, entitled Independent Housestaff Organizations:
A Win/Win Opportunity, provides basic information on the reasons for
organizing housestaff and how this can benefit both the residents and the
institution. It explains that a housestaff organization can help residents
work with the institution to improve standards of patient care and enhance
the educational environment of residency programs. A housestaff organization
can serve as resident advocate, providing them with an opportunity for leadership
training, and offering them member benefits in the form of products and services.
An institution benefits when the housestaff organization creates a more collaborative
work environment and provides a forum for 2-way communications with residents;
institutions are given a new way to receive suggestions for improving efficiency
and to inform residents of policy changes and conveying information.
The manual also offers guidelines for these organizations. In general,
housestaff organizations should not dispute the educational content in a residency
program; this responsibility belongs to the program director and attending
physicians. In addition, housestaff organizations should not take any job
actions, such as strikes, which would jeopardize patient care.
Finally, the manual presents a preliminary guide on forming a housestaff
organization. It discusses steering committees, executive committees, administrative
support, funding, meetings, and communications with members. Next year, we
will publish a manual that will present more detailed information on forming
a housestaff organization. That manual will be written for the executive committee
of a new or emerging housestaff organization as it seeks formal recognition
and acceptance from teaching institutions. It will include a sample constitution
and bylaws, dues invoices, articles of recognition, and other documents.
Members of the AMA can obtain a copy of Independent
Housestaff Organizations: A Win/Win Opportunity by calling (312) 464-4751
or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the AMA 1998 Interim Meeting, the Resident Physicians Section will
host an educational session on forming housestaff organizations. Attendees
will hear presentations by staff and residents from an established housestaff
organization at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and from a new housestaff
organization at Tulane University, New Orleans, La. The speakers will outline
the steps that residents need to take to form a housestaff organization and
will inform attendees how best to approach their institutions with the idea
of a housestaff organization.
This educational session will be held Friday, December 4, in Honolulu,
Hawaii. To attend this session, you must register for the meeting. To register
or find out more about the meeting, visit our Web site at
or call the AMA Department of Resident Physician Services at (312) 464-4751.
If you and your fellow residents are interested in forming a housestaff
organization, I urge you to read our manual or attend our educational session.
The AMA can further assist you by providing consulting services on forming
a housestaff organization.
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