Why (and how) you need to recruit millennial doctors differently

They are not as different as you think, experts say

See the Advisory Board's take on this story.

Recruiting millennial physicians can seem complicated, but young doctors can be wooed if you understand what they want, Howard Wolinsky reports for Modern Healthcare.

The millennial generation started joining the workforce around the turn of the century. And recruiters say young doctors from the generation have markedly different priorities than the baby-boom generation.

Understanding what they want

Bob Just, CEO of the Santa Rosa, California-based St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group, says millennial doctors don't mind working, but they place more value on work-life balance. "When they're off, they want to be off," he explains. They value not being on call 24/7, flexible vacation time, and other work-life balance perks.

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However, Bob Collins, managing partner at the Medicus Firm, a physician recruiting company, says millennials are not shy about asking for money either. While baby boomers' "first question" in the recruiting process tended to be about the practice, millennials will first ask about work-life balance and inqure, "How much money can I make?" he says. Asking about the practice usually comes last, Collins adds.

Millennials also have a more dynamic view of their career path than baby boomers do, explains Damon Beyer, a partner at A.T. Kearney, a consulting firm. They "tend to think of career flexibility and skill acquisition as a long path with lots of flexibility in it," he says.

Their different perspective might make millennials seem selfish, but Monique Valcour, an executive coach and faculty affiliate at the Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, notes that research suggests millennials are actually  quite team-oriented. While some believe millennials are difficult to manage, their questioning of authority often reflects them wanting to better understand why they are being asked to perform a certain task, Valcour explains.

"Essentially, what millennials want is what everybody wants," Valcour says.

Matching the market

Some characteristics of millennials match well with the current health care market. For instance, experts say baby-boomer physicians tend to want an ownership stake in a medical practice, while millennials want to be employed—which mirrors trends in the broader market, Wolinsky writes.

The main takeaway, Beyer says, is that while millennial physicians may have different needs, it is not a reason to worry. "The future of the health care system is in pretty good hands," he says. "We are better off to embrace them than to challenge them and complain about idiosyncrasies," he says (Wolinsky, Modern Healthcare, 9/19).

The Advisory Board's take

Rivka Friedman, Medical Group Strategy Council

There's a tension here that some medical groups are playing to their advantage. Millennial physicians typically value stability and flexibility; if other conditions are right, they often will trade greater income potential for some of the softer benefits of employment.

One key question facing medical groups is how to appeal to these younger physicians' priorities while ensuring that their clinics maintain on-demand access–including at off-hours–that patients value. We're starting to see more group leaders develop creative solutions, like job-sharing and special roles, to meet the needs of both clinicians and patients.

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