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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

For most physicians, the time they spend on their careers sometimes outweighs the time they have for their personal lives. In this year's report, Medscape explores how different generations feel about various aspects of their life and how they attend to their own health. We compared millennials (25-39 years old), Generation X (40-54 years old), and baby boomers (55-73 years old). Our report shows that some struggles are universal; work-life balance is an issue for all generations. In other cases, however, there were some clear divides.

More than 15,000 physicians in over 29 specialties responded to our survey.

(Note: Some totals in this presentation do not equal 100% due to rounding.)

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

A large majority of millennial doctors say they are happy outside of work. Generation X and baby boomer satisfaction with life outside the office is almost the same. Less than 20% of all generations describe themselves as unhappy outside of work hours.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

When it comes to time away from their practice, rheumatologists, general surgeons, public health and preventive medicine physicians, and allergists/immunologists rank highest on happiness. Conversely, neurologists and critical care physicians have some of the lowest percentages.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

"Medical school graduates today gravitate toward higher-paying specialties, often due to high debt loads rather than any particular calling for the specialty, and toward those specialties with a controllable lifestyle, such as fixed scheduling for quality of life," says Travis Singleton, executive vice president for physician recruiting/search firm Merritt Hawkins.

He notes that dermatology "fits the bill perfectly" among millennial doctors, as does internal medicine, which can be a jumping-off point for subspecialization later in a career.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

A larger percentage of baby boomer docs report having enough time for their own personal health and wellness, as opposed to their Generation X and millennial counterparts. Generation X physicians and millennials reported higher rates of rarely or never having time for themselves.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

More male physicians say they always or mostly have time for personal health and wellness compared with their female peers. Overall, the majority (59%) of physicians say they sometimes or rarely have time for themselves.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Nearly half of all physicians take 3-4 weeks of vacation, while close to a quarter take 5 or more weeks away from their work. This is similar to the findings of the 2019 Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Toyota and Honda were the most popular cars among physicians. Respondents were allowed to choose as many makes as applied.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Among the top 10 models driven most by physicians, Toyota and Honda rank at the top, regardless of generation. Among millennials, Subaru ranks third, while for Generation X that designation goes to BMW, and for baby boomers it's Lexus.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

The majority of physicians are currently in a committed relationship, with 84% either married or living with a partner. About twice the percentage of female physicians are single (13% vs 6%) as compared to male physicians.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

More than half (55%) of all physicians are not married to or living with a partner in the medical field. Of those who are, one quarter of women are married to a physician while more than one third of men are married to someone in the healthcare field other than a doctor.

"Still, after all this time, we hear that it is tough for female doctors to find someone who isn't intimidated by their profession," says psychiatrist Michael F. Myers, who has counseled married physicians.

Myers, a professor of clinical psychiatry at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, adds that with the advent of social media and online dating sites, physicians are interacting more with others outside of healthcare.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Overall, a large majority (85%) of married physicians describe their marriages as good or very good. This percentage is similar across the generations.

Myers, who authored Doctors' Marriages: A Look at the Problems and Their Solutions, says he doesn't buy into the assumption that doctors have a higher divorce rate versus other professions. The Medscape data, he says, help to show that various factors go into what makes a marriage successful, not just what generation or profession you belong to.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Nephrologists, physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, and endocrinologists most often reported great satisfaction with their marriages; on the other end of the spectrum are critical care physicians and psychiatrists.

Myers says he never counseled one type of specialist more than another in his career and that it really comes down to the work you put into your marriage.

"You have to be careful about concluding that if you are in a branch of medicine that gives more time for personal and family life, you will automatically have a happier marriage," he says. "It's more about how high of a priority you make personal and family life."

More commonly, Myers says, physicians experiencing trouble in their marriages tend to overwork, and are either embarrassed or afraid to seek help for their personal issues. They may also believe that working harder will result in more money or another "fix" to save their marriage. "This all backfires in the end," he says.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

When it comes to personal use of the Internet, nearly three quarters of baby boomer doctors spend up to 10 hours per week, more than the percentage of physicians overall (66%). Who is most likely to spend more than 10 hours a week online? In our survey, it was millennials.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Around three quarters of all physicians spend up to 10 hours per week online for professional use, while 24% of physicians are logged on for more than 10 hours.

According to a recent study by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, Internet usage at work has increased from 6.2 hours in 2003 to 14.3 hours per week in 2016.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Overall, a large majority of physicians report that they do not use cannabidiol (CBD) or cannabis. Should cannabis become legal in their home state, men and millennials were most likely to respond that they would try it.

While state laws on cannabis vary, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the transportation and cultivation of cannabis-related products such as CBD. The stipulation is that these products must contain no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). A report from analytics firm Brightfield projects that CBD product sales will total approximately $5 billion this year and $23.7 billion by 2023.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Nearly a quarter (23%) of physicians overall have a traditional 40-hour work week at most. Among the generations, the percentages are similar for work week.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Slightly more than half of Generation X physicians say they consume less than one drink per week at most, a higher percentage than their millennial and baby boomer peers (both 47%). Twenty-one percent of baby boomer physicians say they have five or more drinks per week, the most among the generations surveyed.

Overall, nearly half (49%) of physician say they have less than one drink per week.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Older physicians work out more, according to our data. Thirty-seven percent of baby boomer physicians report exercising 4 or more days per week, a higher percentage than Generation X and millennials. Which generation works out the least (once a week or less, or not at all)? In our survey, it was millennials.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

In its most recent statistics on weight loss, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 49% of people aged 20 and older say they are trying to lose weight.

This appears to be the same among physicians. Half of doctors overall are trying to lose weight, while nearly one third are working to maintain their current weight. A higher percentage of female physicians (55%) report trying to lose weight versus their male counterparts (48%).

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Nearly three quarters of baby boomer physicians say they are spiritual or religious, a higher percentage compared with their Generation X and millennial counterparts. Overall, 68% of physicians say they have a spiritual or religious belief, similar to last year's results.

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

Physicians are fairly divided when it comes to concern for what's emanating from Washington, DC. Overall, 44% of doctors are somewhat or very anxious about the political climate, while a very similar 45% are only slightly anxious or not anxious at all. There are slight differences among the generations.

The American Psychological Association recently found that 62% of American adults say the current political climate is a "significant" stressor, behind healthcare (69%) and mass shootings (72%).

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2020: The Generational Divide

Keith L. Martin | January 8, 2020 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report 2019

Medscape's report looks at how happy physicians are and why, as well as the state of their marriage and self-esteem, what cars they drive, how much time they spend on the Internet, and much more.Medscape Features Slideshow, January 2019
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