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Junior doctors to be called ‘resident doctors’

Life at Work
By Tim Tonkin

ARM votes in favour of removing name which misleads public's perception of training required to hold position

Junior doctors are to be called resident doctors, after a vote at the BMA annual representative meeting in Belfast.

A majority of the BMA’s representative body voted in favour of amending association byelaws to reflect replacement to the ‘junior’ title, long criticised by doctors as misleading to patients and demeaning to doctors.

The change, which required a two-thirds majority among RB members, and will need to be ratified by the association’s AGM tomorrow, comes a year on from a motion at the 2023 ARM initiating a call to make a change.

That motion urged the BMA to discontinue the use of the terms ‘junior doctor’ in all forms of communication.

The term ‘resident’ was chosen after an extensive period of consultation by the UK BMA junior doctors committee, and devolved nation JDCs.

Following today’s approved changes, all references to junior doctors within association policies and communications will be changed to ‘resident’ as from September.

The call to replace the junior title at last year’s ARM was presented by the then foundation year 1 Sai Ram Pillarisetti, who spoke of how the term distorted patients’ understanding of the skills and experience of the doctors caring for them.

He told last year’s ARM: ‘This title of junior doctor has proven misleading and indeed demeaning to the general public, it may imply lack of experience or competence, creating a misunderstanding about the work we do and the qualifications we hold.

‘Every day these so-called junior doctors act as the first point of contact for sick and unwell patients on the ward, they’re in theatre operating on your loved ones, and they're leading teams across various specialties in our health service.’

Responding to the vote endorsing the switch to ‘resident’, one doctor on Twitter welcomed the change stating: ‘Finally, a name that doesn’t infantilise a group of doctors that may have 10+ years of experience. A huge step and a correct one.’

The BMA will be engaging with stakeholders in the NHS and beyond to encourage the adoption of the term ‘resident doctors’ and it is hoped that it will go into standard use when referring those from FY1 through to competing their certificate of completion of training.