Millennial Physicians

The Newest Doctor Perspective

The term millennials generally refers to the generation of people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. Millions of millennials, or Generation Y, are now impacting business and the economy as not just consumers, but workers and professionals as well. They are at the center of the self-esteem and individualism movement. Millennials are tolerant on social issues and their values include close ties family, team orientation, social responsibility, technology, and having fun at work.

While plenty of resources have been devoted to studying millennial patients, far less is known about millennial physicians. Millennial physicians are frequently defined as general practitioners born between 1982 and 2000, depending on who’s counting, who came of age with personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and social media. These physicians are more familiar with technology than any generation that preceded them and must take a different approach to the practice of medicine while now starting to care for patients, educate medical students, and start their own practices. Millennials are infusing medicine with their attitudes, aspirations, and experiences that will continue to proliferate in healthcare as millennials accept and advocate for newer, faster systems to improve medical care.

Millennial physicians value freedom and flexibly. The past 20 years have been about change and progress, and because millennials grew up constantly learning how to use new technology, they are not intimidated by learning new things. The idea of changing jobs, moving office locations, or getting new equipment are not unsettling, and often welcome.

Millennial Physicians and Patients

The healthcare system is at a cross-road. While older doctors tend to be very formal, the new generation of doctors do not place themselves on as high of a pedestal. Physicians are often portrayed as very down to earth in media and patients have access to information through the Internet to easily “double-check” everything the doctor says and does. This increasing practice does not make millennial physicians uncomfortable, in fact, they welcome the lack of formality.

When it comes to treating their patients, millennial doctors take a different approach. A 2016 report, Millennial Mindset: The Collaborative Clinician, released by health agencies GSW, inVentiv Health PR Group, and Palio revealed behaviors and attitudes about how millennial physicians work to gather treatment information. Findings show that age impacts their approach to patient care and overall relationships:

Four out of five of millennial doctors think that their Generation Y patients require a different relationship with their doctors than nonmillennial counterparts, and 66% of millennial doctors actually act upon this and change their approach by expecting more from their patients of all ages. Millennial doctors are more likely to simplify explanations for older patients, and more likely than nonmillennial doctors to ask their patients to do additional research on their own-- as 71% of millennial doctors believe it’s beneficial for patients to do research before their appointment. On the other hand, older doctors are more likely to streamline explanations for younger patients.

The majority of Generation Y physicians prefer conversations with their peers when learning about new treatment options. Nearly half, 52%, of millennial doctors found educational experiences that are influenced by their peers to be the most relevant for learning and considering new treatments options.

Physician Recruitment

Baby boomers used to be the largest living generation, not any more.  By 2025 the millennial generation will become 75% of the global workforce. Most carry traits of confidence which are often conceived as narcissistic and entitled individuals that are hard to manage. The generational mixture has stirred up the workplace pot, and the physicians of this generation want exactly what everyone else wants and carry the types of strengths to balance the workforce, they seek to learn, forward think, and share.  Employers need to learn to recruit millennial doctors and need to know to tap into what this generation has to offer.

Encourage Mentorship

As shortage of health care professionals continues to spread across the world, and employers need to be creative in recruitment and retention of medical staff. Millennial physicians are eager to learn and seek knowledge. Employers need to create mentorship opportunities between generations that will satisfy the needs of the older doctors who want to share their legacy and the new physicians who respect them and want to be at their level.

Allow work Flexibility

The baby boomer generation has been characterized as having a workaholic mentality. Millennials put a priority on balancing work life with social life as well as rise up the ladder quickly and receive the financial security that comes with it. Employers need to realize and accept that pay is not as important as allowing for a flexible work schedule, reduced hours, and reduced call. What’s most important is respecting Generation Y’s desire to have a life outside of work. For millennials, it’s not all about work; if employers value their time outside of the hospital and take into consideration their work/life balance, millennials will feel respected and invest more of themselves while they are clocked in.

Engagement Opportunities

Millennial physicians value the ability to provide more effective medical care through technology and information sharing. So, employers should ensure that they have the most up to date technology and are receptive to ideas on how to use or improve it.

Engagement and opportunities to advance at the leadership level is another way to draw in millennials. Many millennial physicians are getting their MBA to learn the business side of medicine in correlation with their medical degrees, saying that they’d like to become a CEO or medical director after practicing medicine. Engaging these physicians in management and leadership by taking time for mentorship and continuing medical education programs are great ways to retain these young physicians’ interests.

Negotiating Salaries

Merritt Hawkins recently released its 2016 Review of Physician and Advance Practitioner Recruiting Incentives.  The Merritt Hawkins Review focuses on starting salaries from physician staffing companies from April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016.  Some highlights include salary increases year-over-year, specialty most in demand is Psychiatry and it is the first time this position has been held, along with additional metrics tracking used to bonus physicians.  A few data points from the review can be found in the below infographic. 

The infographic outlines that physician starting salaries year-over-year are increasing for select specialties including from highest percentage increase to lowest of Internal medicine, family medicine, urology, psychiatry and orthopedic surgery. The big reason for the spike in starting salaries of recruited physicians is intense competition for doctors as millennial physicians’ tendency to lean towards more fast paced environments, such as emergency rooms and hospitals, causing employers from private practices and other concierge medical care to increase their salary offers to gain more recruits.

Conclusion

There are profound changes in store for the U.S. healthcare system, some driven by political and economic change, some by an aging population, and some by advancing technology. But nothing will impact the health care system in the coming years more profoundly than Generation Y. These millennials will bring a keen sense of justice, social awareness, informality and a sense of exploration to the field.

Generation Y healthcare professionals have many characteristics which makes them powerful change agents within the health care sector. They are technology savvy and have great confidence in adapting to new technology. With their technological abilities, aptitude for efficiency, and their inclination for innovation, Generation Y has a lot to offer the medical field. Acknowledging and respecting millennials’ values will create a loyal, driven workforce and a strong network of dedicated physicians. However, some of the issues with Generation Ys in medicine are the same issues found in any other field. First and foremost, millennials want work/life balance, as they won’t risk burnout for the sake of a larger paycheck. Without flexibility, the number of new doctors going into full-time clinical practice will continue to decline.

Millennials are a fundamental demographic contributing to society. The way health care is delivered in the U.S. is rapidly changing every day, and there is perhaps no one in the medical community more prepared for it than the Generation Y physician. Whether it be the massive technological advances or changes in practice structures, millennial doctors are the new cohort of health care practitioners ready to take on an ever-changing environment.

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