Resident Labor Rights: Unionizing A Residency


AAEM/RSA Podcast Series

This podcast series presents leaders from emergency medicine speaking with residents and students to share their knowledge on a variety of topics.

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Join us for a discussion regarding residency unionization and the logistics which go into unionizing a residency and the bargaining that ensues following unionization. These podcast episodes are meant to follow up on our AAEM/RSA Resident Labor Rights panel discussion which took place live in New Orleans at Scientific Assembly and will be posted later.  Please keep your eyes out for that recoding to hear us discuss the basics of what a union is and its pros and cons. This three-part podcast series will build on those initial conversations.

Here with us on the podcast today are Dr. Lena Carleton and Dr. Nikki Alberti

Lena Carleton, MD is a third-year resident physician in Emergency Medicine & Internal Medicine at the University of Illinois Chicago. Lena was born and raised in Washington, DC, and seeing the inequities in her own city sparked a passion for social justice activism at a young age. It is this passion that ultimately led Lena to pursue a career in medicine. During her residency, Lena became one of the founding members of UIC’s resident physician union and has since been involved in bargaining and contract negotiation. She has spoken locally and nationally about her experiences as a union organizer, and her talk, “Organizing is the Best Medicine: The Past, Present, and Future of Resident Unions” won the “People’s Choice” Award at the 2022 EMRA 20 in 6 Resident Lecture Competition.

Nikki Alberti, DO is a second-year resident physician in Emergency Medicine & Internal Medicine at the University of Illinois Chicago. She is from a small town in upstate New York, which is where she did undergrad. She then received her MPH from UVM and went to medical school in Philadelphia, which is where her spark for social justice, and thus unionization, was ignited.

In the episode we discuss one of the largest resident unions and the union at these resident’s program – CIR or Committee of Interns and Residents. For more information about CIR, you can visit their website:

Please feel free to reach out through with any questions regarding unionization efforts or for our guest speakers.