* Boomer physicians suspect that their younger counterparts have less of a work ethic than they do.
* Gen X doctors want a better work-life balance.
* Gen Y doctors are optimistic, collaborative and conservative.
Smith addressed the Boomers’ fear with the marvelous quote that both younger generations must be “unafraid of falling totally in love with being a doctor”. But, the question is, can the younger generations do this when they fear losing their personal lives, possibly their sanity, to their professional ones?
This is where digital technology – something that’s always been a seamless part of existence for these age groups- can help.
(For more on life experiences year by year, the annual Beloit College Mindset lists are a great resource.)
But if you’ve seen a group of physicians recently at a medical convention or advisory-board meeting you’ve probably noticed them comparing iPhones. And that holds for doctors of any age bracket. Johnson & Johnson, picking up on this, recently released the BlackBag iPhone app. It is a medical-news aggregator, joining a fair contingent of physician-useful apps. But since there are dozens of apps available for medical students – flash cards, reference books, interactive games – these will be just a logical step, not groundbreaking news, for new doctors.
Another aspect of the younger generations’ fluidity with technology – and requirement of a personal life – may be that they create less of a firewall between their professional persona and their personal life. While this can be healthy in some aspects, it could also create a problem, as Harvard Business School faculty and Brigham & Women’s Hospital resident Dr. Sachin Jain noted in a “Perspective” article in the New England Journal of Medicine this month titled “Practicing Medicine in the Age of Facebook”. The rights and wrongs of “friending” your health care provider is a brand new frontier.
Now, given that new physicians are tech-adept, but are working not only with the issues inherent in being a busy professional doing very important work – but also the complications of a growing gray area between their lives as individuals and as physicians – what can you do to help them?
What can you create that can help them connect with their patients? Keep a good work/life balance? Advance in their practice? Become a better clinician?
It might look like an iPhone app, a piece of efficiency-improving appointment-scheduling software, an interactive CME, a grand round with live polling, or a video podcast demonstrating procedures. But better yet, it might look like something that doesn’t even exist yet.