Millennial Physicians vs. Previous Generations

In the first quarter of 2015, there were already 53.5 million millennials in the labor force, surpassing both baby boomers and Gen-Xers. As baby boomers are retiring, Generation X physicians are moving into more leadership roles, and Gen-Y (Millennial) professionals are paving their way into the healthcare industry. The medical sector is making efforts to adjust and meet expectations of millennial patients, but what about millennial physicians?

The AMA recently surveyed 200 physicians age 35 and younger, asking about different topics that affect their career. 56% of physicians providing at least 20 hours per week of direct patient care reported unhappiness with the current state of medicine. In addition, 34% say that the reality of practicing medicine is worse than they had expected. Aside from these statistics, 83% stated that they are committed to their careers and have ambitions to change the future of medicine.

Many people get the wrong idea about millennials and jump to the conclusion that they are lazy because they have different mannerisms and outlooks. As more medical facilities are looking for millennial physicians, it is important to understand how they differ from previous generations and what they value in both work and life.

How Are Millennial Physicians Different?

Work-Life Balance

92% of physicians surveyed by the AMA said that work-life balance is a priority, but only 65% feel that they have achieved it at this point. Many older physicians in the baby boomer generation take pride in having a workaholic mentality, and working long hours is just a normal day. Millennials are more focused on maintaining relationships outside of work than previous generations that sacrificed a majority of their life to pursue a medical career.

It seems as though mental and physical health have become increasingly important in the everyday lives of the millennial generation. Having enough “me” time is considered necessary to live a healthy life and reduce the stress that can come from work. A good work-life balance can also decrease the risk of physician burnout, which has been a rising issue in the field.


Because of high medical school debt and other associated costs, millennial physicians still value a good salary much like previous generations. While this is true, money might not be the deciding factor for choosing a job anymore. Many Gen-Y physicians want to focus on performance and outcomes, not on the number of hours they work. Also referred to as value-based healthcare, this focuses more on providing quality, not quantity. Not to mention, this benefits patients as well.

Other incentives that millennial physicians will value more than the traditional end-of-the-year bonus include more paid time off, vacation time, and even some opportunity for flexible hours. Basically, millennials look for incentives that can improve the quality of both work and life.


Engagement also ties in with the value-based healthcare model. Younger physicians try to focus more on developing genuine relationships with patients instead of rushing through the appointment to keep their revenue flowing. We’re not saying that previous generations don’t want to provide quality care; we’re just saying that millennials are becoming more resistant to the idea of quantity vs. quality. In general, millennials are always trying to find meaning in what they do. Making a difference and finding individual meaning is a huge motivator for Gen-Y physicians.


Millennials grew up with technology and are much more in tune with it than baby boomers or older generations. In the AMA survey, 62% of millennial physicians state that they rely on EHRs to provide quality care. Telemedicine is also increasing in the industry, which can make appointments more convenient for both the physician and patient. Contrary to popular belief, using technology doesn’t always insist laziness and can actually prove to be more efficient than traditional practices.

Career Aspirations

Most physicians will choose to work in a hospital or medical facility out of school instead of going for a private practice right away. This allows them to focus more on their clinical work instead of all the administrative tasks. While this is the case, many millennial physicians still have career aspirations to learn the business side. Common aspirations from the AMA survey are continuing careers into entrepreneurial endeavors, health care consultants, hospital/health system executives, or academic researchers.

Author: Troy Diffenderfer

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