More than one-in-three American workers today are from the millennial generation (those born from 1982 to 2004). In 2015, the millennial generation workforce surpassed the generation that immediately precedes them, generation X. They also have surpassed the number of workforce baby boomers, which has declined due to retirement. This makes the millennial generation the largest generational share of the American workforce.
By 2025 the millennial generation will become 75 percent of the global workforce.
PHYSICIANS OF THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION
What are the workforce numbers in the field of medicine? About 155,000 physicians, or 15 percent of the total, are under age 35, while about 25 percent of the American Academy of Family Physician’s active membership is age 39 or younger. One-fourth of the American Osteopathic Association’s membership is 35 or younger.
So, what distinguishes physicians of the millennial generation from those of preceding generations?
Here are three characteristics that millennial physicians are likely to possess that previous generations of physicians may not:
1. They’re accustomed to having information at their fingertips
John Prescott, MD, a 1981 medical school graduate, now chief academic officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, has seen how technology has changed the way students learn. “My generation learned through books and slides and lecture presentations, but the generation since then has grown up using the Internet. They’ll download lectures and maybe review it while exercising on a treadmill and use other tools to highlight certain aspects of their courses.”
Andrew Lutzkanin, a 31-year old physician and a millennial himself observes, “I think our generation is a lot more comfortable with the idea of ‘let’s just look it up while we’re here’ during a patient encounter. As a resident I was pulling out my phone all the time to look up the proper dosage of a drug…There’s just a lot more clinical information that’s available very quickly.”
2. A greater emphasis on work/life balance
The millennial generation is less willing to sacrifice family and personal time. They seek employers that provide a level of work/life balance. And to attain this balance, millennials are more than willing to pursue specialties that provide balance and flexibility.
Some millennial physicians will even work part time in order to pursue interests outside of work. They are often willing to trade potential compensation for flexibility.
As would be expected, there is some grumbling from older doctors on millennials’ emphasis on balance. Lutzkanin notes “There are some who feel we’re all a bunch of lazy kids who aren’t as dedicated to the profession as they were because we don’t want to work the same hours. I push back and say ‘no, we see how overworked and frustrated many of you are and we don’t want to do that.’ We want a rewarding career but one that doesn’t prevent us from doing other things we enjoy.”
3. A willingness to question authority and established procedures
Millennials are accustomed to having instant access to answers. Combine that with the fact they are not obsessed with career advancement at the cost of life balance, and you have a generation that is absolutely unafraid to question the status quo.
Morganna Freeman, DO, FACP, (a non-millennial) remembers making rounds as a resident. If the attending said a certain drug was best, “You just accepted it as fact and maybe you looked it up later. These days, students can just whip out their smartphone and say ‘this one is actually better.’ It’s great that you can look things up at the point of care, and that has also made this generation more likely to question.”
Prescott advises practice owners and managers to focus on the great strengths of millennials. “In general these are very bright, dedicated physicians who are going to challenge you. Listen to them because they will help open your eyes to new ways of doing business and new technology that would benefit your patients and your practice.”
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