The average medical school debt is nearly $200,000, which means unlike Generation X and the Baby Boomer doctors who often went the route of the private practice, Millennials are more likely to take a job in a hospital. Almost half of the medical school graduates in 2018 had racial minority backgrounds. More than half of doctors under the age of 35 are women. The days of only white male doctors are coming to a close, and that’s just what it looks like from the outside.
The Millennial generation, in general, does not have a good reputation. Society calls Millennials (those born between roughly 1980 and 1996 give or take) entitled, lazy, self-centered, and addicted to portable screens. These stereotypes extend to medical circles. However, like it or not, Millennial doctors are taking over the profession, as every generation naturally does, and the complaints coming from the older generation about these newcomers appear to be quite misguided. The very traits they complain about are what seems to be transforming the medical field for the better.
Technology has become necessary in the world of medicine and healthcare
Millennials grew up with the Internet as no generation had before them. While older generations might say this means they are glued to their devices and aloof, the truth of the matter is that what it really equates to in their professions is that they are naturally tech-savvy. They are able to navigate technology with ease and eagerness, which for doctors is becoming more and more necessary as part of the job. That makes Millennials better-equipped to adapt to the growth and changes taking place in healthcare, with so much of it using technological equipment, digital diagnostic tools, and being digitized at large.
For instance, reading outputs of medical equipment used to be a process that took a lot longer before technology came along. This kind of technology frees up doctors’ time for other tasks. Digital tools like electronic health records and telemedicine are also becoming the norm in the medical world. Being able to comfortably exist in this digital landscape is now crucial for all doctors. Millennials have no problem there, and even more, they encourage these changes because they know it is allowing them to provide better care for their patients.
Studies have shown that Millennial doctors are on screens for more than eight hours a day. Five of those hours are spent on electronic health records, and three are spent researching via external search websites. It has also been noted that 37 percent of Millennial doctors use message boards and social networks for work, whereas only 25 percent of Baby Boomer doctors use them. Millennial doctors report that the digital tools provided in the world of healthcare allow them to be much more efficient.
Technology has also created a space for patients to have a say in the decision-making regarding their health, what with all the information out there on the Internet there for the taking. This means doctors have to provide more personalized service and listen to what their patients have to say and about what they want. The top-down approach of doctors giving orders to patients is no longer the standard.
Communication is not like it used to be
Millennials don’t communicate the same way as the generations before them because of technology as well. And this is true across the board, doctors included. Most Millennials will generally text instead of making a phone call or walking down the hall, and some perceive this as cold and disconnected. However, Millennials see texting as efficient. The slow and formal days of communication are essentially over, especially when considering communication between medical professionals themselves. They are not completely sidestepping all in-person contact, but when it makes sense to communicate via text, they do.
Because of social media, doctors these days have much less privacy, and patients might be starting to see them not just in their white coats, but in casual everyday wear as well. This leads Millennial doctors to be more casual in certain in-person, but it also makes them realize that it is both on and off duty that they are being scrutinized. Nowadays, most patients use online reviews when choosing a doctor, and they also trust those reviews as they trust personal recommendations.
Millennial doctors advocate for themselves
Millennials are known for feeling strongly about their beliefs, which is a strength. The sense of entitlement that Millennials are often accused of is a reflection of their propensity to stand up for themselves and what they believe in, not just going along with things just because that’s the way they always have been. Sometimes, the way things always have been is not good enough, and it is a step in the right direction to make real changes. Millennials are doing just that. Medical practice is shifting quickly to better standards of care and better working conditions for healthcare practitioners.
Older generations of physicians commonly complain that their younger Millennial counterparts are not as “dedicated” as they are, claiming they don’t want to work the kind of long hours that “come with being a doctor.” However, this should not be written off as laziness. The culture of Millennials is all about physical and mental wellness and awareness. They would be hypocrites to ignore how unhealthy it is to work such long hours. They just want a healthy work-life balance is all, and they can’t respectfully encourage others toward this health-conscious behavior without advocating for the same thing for themselves.