3 things to know about recruiting and retaining millennial doctors

A doctor examining a patient's eyes
Practices need to understand the values of millennial doctors. (Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

There’s a new generation of doctors entering the workforce, and practices hoping to recruit and retain these millennials need to understand their mindset.

While some traditions remain, this new generation of doctors has a different way of thinking about their jobs, a new survey report from CompHealth, a healthcare recruiting company, shows.

For instance, millennial doctors are still finding their first job the old-fashioned way, based on referrals and networking, rather than relying on social media. But when it comes to their job expectations, millennials place much more emphasis on the need for work/life balance than older doctors.

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While older generations may have been willing to work 100 hours a week at a practice or hospital, millennials have different priorities, said Lisa Grabl, CompHealth’s president, in an interview with FierceHealthcare.

Lisa Grabl
Lisa Grabl
(CompHealth)

Practices and other healthcare organizations trying to recruit and retain young physicians in what has become a very competitive market need to understand what these doctors want from their workplace, Grabl says. “Have an awareness of what the new generation values.”

Amid rising demand for new doctors, 50% of 935 final-year medical residents in a survey last year said they received 100 or more recruiting offers during their training. The search for new physicians was described as being on the verge of a “feeding frenzy.”

Given the findings of CompHealth’s survey, Grabl recommends practices and hospitals consider the following in their effort to recruit and keep new doctors:

Make your organization’s culture attractive to young doctors. “We see it across the board that practices and facilities that want to bring in young doctors and keep them need to think about the culture in their facilities,” she says.

Millennials are still choosing to become doctors for the same reason that motivated many older physicians: because they love medicine and they want to help people, she says. However, the second biggest reason young doctors cited for leaving a job was work/life balance (51%). Among women doctors, poor work/life balance was the biggest reason for leaving a position.

Practices need to be mindful that unlike previous generations of doctors, many millennials don’t want their career to be their entire life.

Offer them adequate compensation. Perhaps this goes without saying. But while millennials value work/lifestyle balance, you should not think that salary does not matter to them. Compensation is still the biggest reason young doctors (59%) cite for leaving a job.

Male doctors view the three major job concerns—good work/life balance, location and income—about equally. Women view work/life balance and location as primary concerns, and income as secondary.

Communication is key. “Connectedness is a very part of work culture,” Grabl says. The third major reason why young doctors leave a job? Some 45% cited bad management.

Be sure you are talking to the new physicians in your practice. Be clear about your organization’s expectations and let them know they can ask questions. Be sure they feel they have support within the organization. Healthcare organizations can take lessons from other industries, she says. At CompHealth, the company holds a lot of focus groups to allow young employees to talk about their work experience, what attracted them to the job and why they plan to stay. Leaders, also, need to be accessible, says Grabl, who usually starts her day by walking around the workplace and talking to employees.

In a competitive world with a projected shortage of physicians, it’s important that practices and other healthcare organizations set themselves apart, she says. And with physician burnout a big concern, be sure you make the wellness of your young doctors a top priority, she says.