Inside The Mind Of Young Physicians

26-year-olds coming out of residency are getting less predictable.

Interest in traveling positions that plug in the doctor for 1-3 month stints in interesting and oft times ‘vacation-like’ destinations are increasingly popular, despite prior year demand for security and limited hours in a hospital or academic environment. The initial results are part of a multi-year study on physicians we started about a decade ago, and they are a window into how to recruit doctors and how to use them. (Note that 310 residents were surveyed this fall, 323 in 2017).

Today’s newest crop of doctors may be coming in to a more challenging business environment where reimbursement is in reform but they are benefitting from more options in where and how they can practice.

  • 27%, up from 19% two years ago, would most prefer a traveling type position or some sort of ‘short-stint’ job like being a surgeon in a rural market for a month near a ski town, or a PCP in a coastal market needing urgent care
  • 13% have the most interest in a growing area I like to call Doctor Baker medicine, up from 4% two years, where physicians do house calls either for a health system, insurer or some sort of population health vendor
  • ‘Single’ residents aren’t the only ones looking to travel; married doctors coming out of residency seek similar adventures together, 33%, up from 21%

It’s most interesting to me that these younger doctors care less about the type of employer they have and more so about the type of setting.

  • Just two years ago, 80% preferred tradition, opting for a hospital, academic center or classic physician office but that’s down to 63%, with interest rising for more nuanced roles that seem to align with health system trends
  • ENTs and GIs would like to do clinic work and academic work, but about 6 in 10 coming out with general medicine, psychiatry or general surgery credentials would like to travel or do a mix of telehealth and consulting

Our oldest, Kyoe, is now in college studying pre-med and healthcare management but has no interest in working in the US – she wants to go start a clinic in Thailand and perhaps do tele services for US hospitals with large refugee populations. I think of these trends and I think to my own 20s when I graduated and did a stint as a golf caddy for an LPGA hopeful. I only made it through half a season in part because I was so bad at counting yardage that I misclubbed Heika at least three or four times a round, once leaving her with a 100-yard sandwedge to make the cut after being only 50 yards away!  At least the experience helped me write one of my first books and paved the way to my jump into journalism.

There’s probably a few lessons in all this for physician practices and health systems trying to recruit and find their next talent pool: make sure your doctors can count, and be creative in how you deploy them….The health system may depend on that above all.

Note: Full results will be shared via an upcoming presentation call.


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