Millennial Physicians: Debunking the Stereotype

Alok S. Patel, MD


August 17, 2018

Let's address a little generational issue. The other day in the hospital, I overheard a couple of older doctors making fun of millennial doctors, calling us "lazy" and "unfocused."

Now, I know they were probably joking, but haven't we [millennial doctors] all heard older doctors tease us and say things like, "Back in our day, we didn't have work-hour restrictions"; "Back in our day, we used to do complete physical exams"; or "Back then, we didn't have computers; we had our brains."

Millennials and Screen Time

Actually, one thing I'll agree with is, yes, millennial doctors do spend a lot of time in front of a computer.

There was a study back in 2013 that found that medical interns spent 40% of their time in front of a computer and only 12% in direct patient care.[1]

To be honest, we would probably do more lengthy patient histories and physicals, and spend more time with our patients, if we weren't always charting. It's not because we're lazy! This is just the system in which we practice now.

Unfocused or Ambitious?

And what about that "unfocused" comment? I think this stems from a priority shift away from the old-school workaholic, powerhouse doctor mentality to being doctors that value lifestyle balance and time away from the hospital. Perhaps this is why a lot of young doctors pick jobs with shift work like—ding, ding—a hospitalist role.[2]

And this is reflected in a recent AMA Wire survey which showed that up to 80% (4 out of 5) of millennial doctors eventually wanted to pursue some type of career interest that is beyond patient care[3]—something like entrepreneurship, consulting, research.

Does this make us unfocused or does this make us creative and ambitious? I don't know; maybe that's wishful thinking.

But what do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of millennial doctors? Do you believe that the future of medicine is in good hands? Please share your comments below.


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