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March 13, 1978

Psychiatric House Staff on Strike

Author Affiliations

From the Research Division, Council on Social Work Education (Dr Rosenblatt), New York, Manhattan Psychiatric Center, Manhattan State Psychiatric Hospital (Dr Koz), Ward's Island, NY, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Drs Rosenblatt and Koz), Bronx, NY. Dr Rosenblatt is now with the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, Langley Porter Institute, San Francisco.

JAMA. 1978;239(11):1056-1060. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280380056018

PHYSICIANS' strikes were once extremely rare in the United States. Now they are becoming more common. In 1975, strikes occurred in the three largest American cities—New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In these cities, house staff members united to exact concessions from the hospitals and medical centers employing them.

Traditionally physicians did not join unions or engage in strikes. Even today most physicians hesitate to join a union, particularly those practicing in the less industrial sections of the nation. Thus at the founding of the Physicians National Housestaff Association (PNHA), the residents and the union's executive director debated the wisdom of publicly acknowledging its true nature. The executive director, formerly a union organizer, favored bluntly stating the purpose of PNHA: "Why look like a duck, quack like a duck, and call yourself a pheasant?" The PNHA's vice-president, who was a physician, advised house staff to concentrate on the issues. In