UW Residency Spots Go Unfilled

Compensation is a key factor in deciding which residency programs to apply to and where to go. When newly minted doctors apply for residencies, they rank their preferred choices and are ultimately assigned a program through the NRMP Match. Each residency program’s goal is to ensure that all resident positions are filled. However, if not enough residents rank their program, those spots go unfilled and the hospital system ends up understaffed.

We analyzed publicly available match data comparing the match rates of the top 100 institutions. In 2006, when the Seattle Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 190, UW was around the 50th percentile of all institutions in terms of matching rates. However, as the CPI has risen, UW’s match rate has dropped to around the 80th percentile. In other words, 80% of institutions recruit resident physicians better than UW. 

Unfilled spots are a sign of an institution in rapid decline. Programs further lose prestige and applicants as word spreads that they are not seen as desirable. Residents have a choice when they apply to residency, and they are increasingly choosing to look elsewhere.

Other programs have recognized this problem. At UCSF, poor compensation in the early 2000s tracked directly with more unmatched positions. When UCSF instituted significant salary increases, they immediately began filling more positions, a trend which has continued as salary has increased over the last 15 years.  

UW residents have an enormous stake in the prestige of UW. As UW’s stature goes, so go our own prospects for our future careers. UW residents are very worried about these trends. We hope that the leaders at UW are even more so. 

The Lowest Paid Residents

Seattle is one of the most expensive places in the United States to live, and compensation to be a resident here should reflect that. However, UW residents are the lowest paid residents by cost of living in the country. UWHA analyzed fifty of the largest and most prestigious academic medical centers in the country, UW’s peer institutions. Many programs in far cheaper locations pay as much or more than UW.

On this graph, the black line represents the average compensation per unit of cost of living. Our peer public institutions meet or exceed this average. Consider the University of Michigan, located in a far lower cost city but paying substantially more than UW. This is not some private enterprise with a massive endowment to fund salaries. This is our nearest peer public institution, with the same challenges and prospective resident pool as UW.

Furthermore, UW itself recognized this by requesting funds from the legislature to give raises of 2-4% to faculty and staff (1). UW stated that “allocating more state resources for [raises] is critical to remain competitive with peers (many of which offer higher salaries in locations with a lower cost of living)” (1). UWHA agrees.

And the cost of living is only going up: housing prices have increased nearly 160% since the late 1990s (2). Beyond rent, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a gauge of how expensive “everything” is, has been rising at or above 3% in all but two months since early 2016 (3). In Seattle, the value of a dollar is lower than nearly all other cities in the United States (4).

1) Office of Planning and Budgeting. Summary of 2019-21 Operating Budget Requests. University of Washington.
2) Rosenberg, Mike. Hoping for Seattle-area rents to get cheap? Don’t hold your breath. Seattle Times
3) Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index – Seattle.
4) Cole, Alan. The Real Value of $100 in Metropolitan Areas. The Tax Foundation

UWHA Week of Action!

UWHA Week of Action – September 23 – 26

Monday, Sept. 23: Social Media Swarm

Who: All UWHA Members and Supporters

What: Social Media Publicity Day

Where: Wherever you are, All Day

You: Post pictures of you and other residents in support of a better contract. Tag @UWHousestaff, @UWmedicine, and your friends – please add hashtags #careNOTcuts #iamUWHA #faircontractnow

Tuesday, Sept. 24: Wear Suits in Solidarity (+Sticker/Button Up)

Who: All UWHA Members and Supporters

What: Solidarity Day

Where: Wherever you’re working, All Day

You: Wear a suit (if you don’t own a suit, still dress as business professional as possible), and wear a UWHA pin. When people ask why you’re dressed up, “UWHA is fighting for a fair contract. We mean business and we deserve better than what UW is proposing.” Post pictures, using same tags as the day before. 

Wednesday, Sept. 25: Unity Walkout

Who: All UWHA Members and Supporters

What: 15 Minute Walkout

Where: UWMC (Front Entrance), HMC (9th & Jefferson), VA (Front Entrance), and SCH (River Entrance), and various clinics (email admin@uwha.com if you are planning to walkout of another location), 12:00-12:15pm

You: Walkout a few minutes before Noon. T-Shirts and Signs will be at location – wear and wave them! Post pictures and tag us & friends.

Etc.: Short speeches will occur at each location. Residents at UCLA, UCSF, Highland Hospital walked out recently and saw immediate results!

Thursday, Sept. 26: Negotiation Session

Who: All UWHA Members

What: Contract Negotiation 

Where: Roosevelt Commons West, Rm 271

You: Come and Fill the Room!

How undervalued are you?


A few of the facts on current UW resident/fellow pay and benefits.

  • Compared to peer institutions:
    • You receive at least $7,000 less per year in salary
    • You receive at least $6,000 less per year in housing stipend
    • Your cost of living is rising faster than most places
  • A survey of 59 peer institutions showed 75% of other residency programs have 4 or 5 weeks of vacation
  • Current childcare benefits:
    • The stipend covers two days of childcare per year
    • The waiting period for daycare centers is 1-3 years
  • In addition, you pay more for:
    • Parking
    • Public transportation
    • Health insurance
    • Meals on campus
    • Travel for academic conferences
    • Other educational expenses

You keep UW’s hospitals and clinics running, provide excellent patient care, and generate revenue. This is unacceptable – you deserve better.

July 18th Bargaining Session

UWHA and UW Labor Relations met for the second bargaining session on July 18th. Article 1 discussing ‘Childcare’ was brought to the table. Dr. Hannan Qureshi and Dr. Nora Li lead a presentation covering the research and reasoning behind our proposed changes in the contract. A few members shared personal testimonials, both in person and over the phone. Additionally, members of the bargaining team read statements on behalf of individual members who shared their stories prior to the meeting. The testimonials mostly spoke to the hardship of childcare costs and daycare waitlists. 

The current contract gives UWHA $50,000 per year to disperse between residents – which amounts to an average of about 3.5 hours of childcare per month per household. UWHA’s request to the University Labor Relations is to increase the fund to $506,160 per year, which would cover approximately one month of childcare for one child per year. The request also includes increasing the emergency childcare service fund to $50,371.The next bargaining session is set for Monday, July 22nd at 3:00pm on the UW Campus.