At the same time, generation X values learning new skills or specialties. “As a generation, they tend to be very portfolio-oriented, in any industry,” says Thielfoldt. “They want to build a skills portfolio as they would a financial portfolio. They want expertise and new skills. This is more important to them than how much or how little time they work.”
Generation X may also find hospital medicine to be the perfect job because the management style suits them so well. “Gen Xers are very sensitive to micromanaging,” says Scheef. “And now that they have the confidence of experience, [the negative reaction to micromanaging by a supervisor] is worse. Instead of traditional managing, they are very receptive to expert coaching or formal mentoring. This can tie in really well with helping them develop that skills portfolio.”
Changes Are Coming
As more baby boomers retire and generation X becomes firmly established, healthcare and other industries may change the way they operate. “Gen Xers have growing families now. They have come to the work-life balance issue much earlier than any other generation,” says Thielfoldt. “And unlike previous generations, their top priority is spending time with their children. That sounds crazy, right? Boomers have doted on their children—but they spend their time at work, especially fathers. Gen X fathers spend more time on average with their kids than boomers did at the same age.” The eventual outcome: “Employers need to respect this as a top priority and provide flexible scheduling to allow it.”
Many hospital medicine programs are doing just that, searching for ways to adequately cover the patient census and workload and keep hospitalists happy.
Dr. Smith agrees that change must come to healthcare: “The future environment … must recognize that physician well-being and balance in life is a valid and important concern and does not negate the attainment of professionalism. It must reward excellence, not endurance.”1 TH
Jane Jerrard regularly writes “Career Development.”
- Smith, LG. Medical professionalism and the generation gap. Am J Med. 2005 Apr;118(4):439-442.