As they hire young pathologists, pathology groups and clinical laboratories will need to factor in the generational preferences of these Gen Y physicians

Generation Y doctors take a much different approach to the practice of medicine than the Gen X and Baby Boomer doctors who preceded them. It will be important for clinical laboratories and pathology groups serving Gen Y physicians to understand these important differences.

While Gen Y doctors remain just as dedicated to the high standards of medicine as their predecessors, the current crop of young doctors approach the practice of medicine with a much broader world-view than previous generations of physicians, according to a recent story in Modern Healthcare (MH).

“I see no evidence that indicates that their ethical commitment is any weaker, that they care any less for patients,” observed Darrell G. Kirch, M.D. He is President of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Younger Docs Like “Team” Approach to Medicine

Wikipedia cites two characteristics of Gen Ys. First, they are heavily dependent on team work. Second, they exhibit a deep trust in authority and institutions. Younger doctors like being part of a team, MH reported. They like sharing the load with other doctors on the team.

This may explain some of the findings of a survey by national physician recruitment firm, Merritt Hawkins. The 2011 survey of final-year medical residents found that:

• 48% said they are unprepared to handle the business side of medicine;

• 9% said they are very prepared to handle the business side of medicine;

• 32% would prefer to be employed by a hospital than any other option;

• 1% indicated they would prefer a solo setting as their first practice; and

• 56% said they received no formal instruction during their medical training regarding medical business issues such as contracts, compensation arrangements, and reimbursement methods.

As members of Generation Y, today's young doctors are tech-savvy, team-oriented, and value a balanced life beyond just the practice of medicine. They have different goals and attitudes toward how they want to practice medicine. Clinical laboratories and pathology groups will be hiring Gen Y pathologists, and therefore would be well-served to understand these generational differences. (Graphic copyright Hollyonhealth.com.)

As members of Generation Y, today's young doctors are tech-savvy, team-oriented, and value a balanced life beyond just the practice of medicine. They have different goals and attitudes toward how they want to practice medicine. Clinical laboratories and pathology groups will be hiring Gen Y pathologists, and therefore would be well-served to understand these generational differences. (Graphic copyright Hollyonhealth.com.)

Gen Ys—also called “Millennials,”—are tech-savvy. They like electronic medical records (EMR) and smartphone apps. This may be another reason why younger doctors are attracted to larger medical practices. Larger providers are more apt to have and use advanced information technology.

This also means that Gen X doctors will play key roles in helping medicine achieve clinical care that is of higher quality and more cost-effective. The MH story gives an example. Emal Nasiri, M.D., 32, a medical resident at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa, views technology as improving efficiency. “More experience with years [of medical practice] doesn’t necessarily mean better doctors if the older generation isn’t keeping up with newer treatment modalities and approaches to patient care,” Nasiri observed.

Survey Shows That More Doctors Are Working Part Time

The Merritt Hawkins survey found that younger doctors place a high value on balancing career and personal life. According to the survey, residents identified geographic location, personal time, and lifestyle as three important considerations when evaluating a medical practice opportunity. Additionally, respondents identified availability of free time as their greatest concern upon entering their first medical practice.

The result is a growing trend of doctors who work part time or on flexible schedules.

Amednews.com reported a story on a recent American Medical Group Association (AMGA) survey of physicians. This survey was conducted in 2011 by St. Louis-based physician search firm, Cejka Search. It covered 14,366 physicians and 80 practices. The practices ranged in size from three to more than 500 doctors.

According to the survey, 22% of male doctors and 44% of female doctors employed by medical groups worked part-time in 2011. That was up significantly from 7% and 29%, respectively, in 2005.

“The numbers are staggering,” stated Dike Drummond, M.D., on his blog for medical doctors. “I believe we are seeing the emergence of a new normal,” he observed. Drummond is a Mayo Medical School family practice physician, now working as a physician coach.

Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will want to stay abreast of the changing priorities and preferences of newly trained physicians entering the medical field.  Newly-graduating pathologists—who are themselves members of Gen Y—will share these generational attributes.

—Pamela Scherer McLeod

Related Information:

Young tech-savvy docs want a real life, but don’t call them slackers

More doctors work part time, flexible schedules

Part Time Doctor – Physician Schedule Flexibility and the New Normal

Merritt Hawkins 2011 Survey of Final-Year Medical Residents

American Medical Group Association/Cejka Search 2011 Physician Retention Survey

Dark Daily, “When Recruiting and Training Generation Y to Work in Medical Laboratories, U.S.A and U.K. Face Same Challenges”

Dark Daily, “Gen-Y Physicians Take Ethical High Road with Pharma and Medical Device Influence”