There is a diverse group of health care professionals on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus who work rather quietly – often into skinny hours of the night – but register a significant impact.
“We’re a pretty large population on campus,” said Jeremy Hosein, MD, a third-year neurosurgery resident. “You can’t walk around on campus without rubbing elbows with a resident or a fellow.”
Hosein and Christie Osborne, MD, are this year’s co-presidents of the Housestaff Association (HA), which represents 1,100 residents and fellows at CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Most of that number – about 800 – are residents, who are collectively known as the “house staff” or “houseofficers” of a hospital.
Front lines of health care
The HA is a nonprofit organization, solely funded through houseofficer dues, which advocates on behalf of members who, as trainee physicians, often serve on the front lines of health care in area hospitals. The HA represents houseofficers who serve at University of Colorado Hospital (UCH), Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, Rose Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center and National Jewish Health.
Hosein said the HA wants to improve its visibility as some members are unaware that the association serves as a resource for their unique circumstances. Added Osborne, “We try to work as best as we can within the system to try to advocate for resident and fellow interests.”
For example, the HA negotiates on issues such as work conditions, health coverage and stipends which, ideally, reflect the area’s cost of living.
Improve conditions, reduce burnout
The HA is affiliated with the CU Graduate Medical Education (GME) but is not a training program and does not fall under GME’s direction. The HA Executive Committee meets monthly, while Housestaff representatives serve on standing committees including in the GME, the School of Medicine and UCH. Representatives also give feedback to the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) when the ACGME makes campus visits.
More Housestaff Association information
Each year, the HA sends out a confidential education survey to all houseofficers. In addition to fair stipends, the co-presidents say, members are generally interested in ways to reduce burnout amid a national health care environment that is seeing rising patient volumes. On average, medical residents put in 80 hours a week.
Osborne is a third-year pediatrics resident. “My residency program director has often said, ‘I’d like to see what would happen if the residents didn’t show up one day,’” Osborne said. “They’re such an integral part of the day-to-day operations of the hospitals.”
‘Residents and fellows work extremely hard’
Both Osborne and Hosein said they enjoy the collaborative environment in which they work with administrators and other leaders across the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. They also point to the exceptional service the organization has received for many years from HA Administrator Sally Robben.
“Christie, Sally and I feel very strongly that residents and fellows work extremely hard on this campus,” Hosein said. “We are a resource for them and are proud to represent them.”