Millennials have more pathways, choices in medical careers

Medical education
Today's medical students have more options.

When Paul Rosen, M.D., was a fourth-year medical student 20 years ago, most future doctors traveled the same traditional path from residency to practice.

That’s not the case today, as millennials have more pathways into medicine and more choices about how their careers will play out, said Niko Kurtzman, now a fourth-year student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.

Rosen, an attending in mid-career who is an associate professor of pediatrics at Kimmel Medical College, said in an interview with NEJM Catalyst that years ago almost everyone in medical school went into clinical care and no one considered the idea of not doing a residency. If he had it to do over again, Rosen said he would have followed the same path, but wishes he learned more in his training about medical management—technology, strategy, negotiation and legal issues. 

Kurtzman described his non-traditional road to medical school, having first majored in economics and computer science and working on two startup companies. Even today, he is juggling medical school with running a startup. He said some doctors applaud the "smart decision" to get out of traditional medicine.

Kurtzman said he hopes to become an emergency physician who can practice part-time and work with entrepreneurs to test new technology within hospitals and improve it. “My generation has a different mindset from 20 years ago,” he said.

Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the workforce, and are now taking leadership roles in the healthcare industry.