Millennial Physicians: How They Differ From Previous Generations

Millennial Physicians: How They Differ From Previous Generations

By 2025, millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce. Many in the healthcare industry are talking about adapting to the expectations of the rising class of younger patients, but it’s important not to ignore the other side of the equation—millennial physicians. Hospitals lose millions of dollars a year in replacing physicians, so understanding the values and desires of this new generation is critical to recruiting and retaining good physicians. For physician liaisons, connecting with these younger physicians can lead to lasting partnerships and loyal referral sources for many years to come.

Here are 3 ways millennial physicians are likely to differ from previous generations of physicians you’ve worked with:


1. Work-Life Balance

The baby-boomer generation has been characterized as having a workaholic mentality, taking pride in tallying up long hours at the office. Millennials, on the other hand, strongly believe in the idea of “working to live” rather than “living to work.” That isn’t to say that they are lazy, but rather that they value time-saving efficiency through technology and protecting their leisure time. Bob Just, an administrator for St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare, explains “They want to work hard when they’re here, but when they’re off they want to be off…they don’t want to have 24/7 responsibility.”

Obviously, in some areas, such as emergency medicine or anesthesiology, being on-call is just a part of the gig, but be prepared to cover these details fully in the interviewing process. Kurt Mosley from Merritt Hawkins says that the easiest way to appeal to millennial workers is to offer flexible hours, which can actually be “a very easy thing to accommodate.” What’s most important is respecting this generation’s desire to have a life outside of work, which may include the pursuit of hobbies, travel, or artistic interests. Remember that for millennials, it’s not all just about work; if you value their time outside of the hospital and take into consideration their work-life balance, they will value you and invest more of themselves while they are clocked in.


2. Incentives

Many of these millennial physicians won’t be shouting “show me the money!” at the top of their lungs when looking for incentives to work hard. Despite high medical school debt, money is not the great determining factor for where and how these physicians choose to work. While being paid a reasonable salary is still on the table, there are a number of other incentives you may want to consider that set them apart from earlier generations.

One of these is outcomes: “Hours are not important [for millennials],” says Kyle Matthews at CardioVascular Associates of Mesa in Arizona, “They want performance based on outcomes, not on the number of hours they put in over a week.” This can be reflected in the shift toward compensation based on patient satisfaction in a number of healthcare systems. What this means is that your organization should be tracking patient outcomes often and trying to find ways to reward millennial physicians for those outcomes.

Another alternative incentive is time off: rather than simply rewarding top performers with end-of-the-year bonuses and raises, other possible sources of incentives include paid time off, Friday half days, and more vacation. Fitting these rewards into physicians’ schedules will connect with many millennials, as it will provide them with more opportunities to develop their individual “self” outside of work, which is a token goal of many millennials.


3. Meaningful Engagement

The last thing millennial physicians want is to feel like they are a cog in a wheel—a money-maker for a huge, avaricious corporation. Dr. Garima Loharuka, a recent millennial physician hire from Santa Rosa California explains “I wasn’t interested in seeing 40 patients a day and having five minutes with each one,” she said. “I really wanted to build relationships with people.” Focusing on helping these physicians create and develop these relationships rather than simply generate revenue is crucial to connecting with millennials’ sense of identity. Making a difference, helping others, finding individual meaning, being more than just a number—these are all things that make millennials tick and drive them to professional achievement. <

Engagement at the leadership level is another way to draw out what’s best in millennials. Many millennial physicians will opt to join a hospital or healthcare system rather than enter directly into ownership at a private practice because “younger doctors generally don’t want the headaches of administering a practice, preferring to focus on their clinical work.” However, as Kurt Mosley points out, many millennials are getting their MBA in correlation with their medical degrees with a vision of leadership on the horizon: “A lot are saying that after 10 to 15 years in medicine, they’d like to become a CEO or medical director, so they want to learn the business side of medicine.” Engaging these physicians in management and organizational leadership and setting time aside for frequent conferences, trainings, mentorship programs, committees, and continuing medical education are great ways to retain these physicians once they’ve become a part of your team.


The Future is in Good Hands

With their deep-seated abilities in technology, their aptitude for efficiency, and their proclivity for forward-thinking innovation, millennials have a lot to offer in the physician marketplace. Damon Beyer, a consultant from Chicago says, “The future of the healthcare system is in pretty good hands…These kids are asking the right questions. We are better off to embrace them than to challenge them and complain about idiosyncrasies.” Acknowledging, respecting, and honoring the values and expectations of millennial physicians will create a loyal, driven physician workforce for your organization. Creating a strong network of this generation of physicians now will be the impetus for market share growth in the very near future.