October 12, 2018

What do millennial medical professionals seek in a career?

Guest post by Austin Essenburg, a MS-4 at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio who interned with MedSpoke and is going into his emergency physician residency.

Introduction by Dr. Jon Larson, MBA

As the workforce shifts to be predominantly millennials, the systems managing this flow are not. Medicine in particular is slow to change. Every healthcare organization experiences the same pain related to recruiting & retraining physicians. The supply of physicians is dangerously low, and only getting worse. The solution? To become more progressive in hiring processes and appeal to millennials’ different goals. Groups who can understand where millennials are coming from to create a work environment that aligns with their values and preferences will win the battle to attract and retain the best talent.

When I came out of residency in 2009, like other Gen-Xers, I was simply looking for any job in the city where I wanted to live. But now as millennials are entering the workforce how are things different? What worked for previous generations won’t work for millennials. Hospitals and groups need to find inventive ways to make work more enjoyable for millennial physicians and give them autonomy and control over their careers. Millennials won’t accept the status quo of mountains of paperwork, onerous administrative tasks and months long application processes. When it comes to a job, just throwing money at them won’t work. They truly understand that money doesn’t buy happiness, and they value life and relationships outside of work more than killing themselves for an extra dollar. Groups who alleviate the administrative burdens of the job hunt and align their workplace practices with the next generation of physicians’ work-life balance desires will win the ultra-competitive recruiting and retention battle.

Guest post by Austin Essenburg

We asked our intern and MS-4 at UT Health Science Center San Antonio, Austin Essenburg, to give us his perspective on the millennial workforce.

As a millennial physician about to enter my residency, what will I eventually be looking for in my career? Three things come top of mind: flexibility, accessibility and shared consciousness. Here’s my take on the changing millennial workforce and what it means for medicine.

Millennials are often pegged as the tech-obsessed, multi-tasking, collaborative, and professionally eager 20-somethings taking over the job market. By the end of this year, we’ll represent ⅓ of the US workforce (ages 18-35) and by 2025, 75% of physicians will be millennials. Pretty staggering – in 8 years the majority of physicians will be millennials.

So, what will that mean for the healthcare marketplace and how will that change the way physician groups, hospitals, and healthcare professionals interact? In a phrase – “work-life balance”. Even though it’s an overused stigma attached to millennials and their increasing concern with their lifestyle, unpacking what it really means might be more than you think.

What “work-life balance” really represents is a generational shift toward a set of career values different from Baby Boomers or Generation X. It started as a term used to simplify the discussion of changing views. But it’s become something else, something marred by differences in generational culture; a term synonymous with less work to older generations. However, to millennials, “work-life balance” means something entirely different.

I see a consistent trend that is masked by the term “work-life balance” and it includes three main principles at the heart of millennial ideology: flexibility, accessibility and a very broad theme which I call shared consciousness. All these terms are underpinned by technology’s ability to simplify archaic business models and increase efficiency for a common, worthwhile endeavor.

Look at the explosion of Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Airbnb, and so many more tech-driven, socially connected companies. This millennial shift is occurring across multiple industries and altering the employer-employee relationship by empowering eager young professionals to work with you – instead of for you.

I understand we’re a confusing group – seemingly full of contradictions that have created a rift in the perception of our career goals. We often seek out companies based on their ability to foster future employability instead of job security, yet we’re professionally eager and highly motivated to pay off debt. We lament formal corporate structure, yet we relish regularly scheduled mentor guidance and accept constant evaluations as the norm. We seemingly spend all of our time in our phones, yet have a strong desire for a shared consciousness brought on by clearly defined company mission statements and open communication from intern to CEO. These are puzzling juxtapositions, but make sense when you consider millennials’ upbringing and willingness to adopt rapid change in tech and social culture.

This shift in values can be hugely beneficial to both employer and employee, especially in healthcare, if nurtured and incorporated properly. It should be celebrated because this generation will shape the way the healthcare industry is run and perhaps provide an answer for the 100,000-physician shortage expected by 2025.

Millennials, and our motives, are worth a more in depth look. Over the course of the next few months I’ll dive deeper in these three areas of the millennial preferences: flexibility, accessibility, and shared consciousness.

Feel free to get involved in the conversation! How do you think the next generation of physicians will impact healthcare?

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