Non-clinical Careers for Millenials

Millennials' expectations are different than those of former medical students. Medical educators who ignore this demographic trend do so at great peril.

Millennials reached adulthood about 15 years ago and there are many theories and observations about what makes them tick. Some say they are different. Others think they are much the same as other generations, just coming of age at a different time.

Among the many joys of working with medical students, particularly Millennials, is how they push back. Generation Y, the Echo generation, typically refers to those who came of age around 2000 and are typified by their techno-comfort, the fact that they still live with their parents, and that they all expect a trophy just for showing up. In addition, cultural monitors and demographers predict that Echo kids will switch jobs, if not careers, more often.

Medical educators, like me, who ignore this demographic trend do so at great peril. Millennials’ expectations are different than those of former students, and they demand more options, feedback, decision making, and rewards. Here are my suggestions for the care and feeding of Millennial medical students when it comes to non-clinical careers:

Give them a place to play

Unsatisfied with traditional career pathways, students want options that satisfy their work objectives and work-life balance requirements. In addition to rotations on surgery, medicine, ER, and the ICU, students should be offered elective rotations in biotech, me dical device, diagnostic development, and healthcare IT. They should do summer internships in startups, including the summer before starting medical school.

Recruit faculty who are experienced and can serve as role models

We're all familiar with the copy of the recruitment ad for the new chairman, seeking someone with extraordinary clinical achievements, scientific and clinical research renown, teaching awards, and awe -inspiring leadership skills. Did we mention we want someone from industry with product development experience or a physician entrepreneur?

Stop playing games during the admission interview

Medical student applicants should be encouraged to tell the truth about their aspirations and career objectives without fearing retribution from admissions committees looking for "real docs." More and more students come to medical school with business, entrepreneurial and technical backgrounds. It is obvious that they will want to leverage those talents when they graduate. Some will not even do a residency but go straight to creating a product or company.

Do a better job of measuring the impact of dual-degree programs

Joint MD/MBA programs are now offered by a great majority of US medical schools. Few have measured their impact, particularly as it applies to bioentrepreneurship and whether they make any difference.

Create opportunities to practice medicine and pursue non-clinical careers at the same time

We're heard from others on this site about the sources of physician dissatisfaction and job stress. Teaching students that they can have elements of both careers might lead to less cynicism, dissatisfaction and more joy.

Engage them in the conversation

Medical schools should do a better job of offering bioentrepreneurship education and training, Innovation Grand Rounds, App Club, and other ways to engage students in the innovation process.

The Trophy Kids want more, they want it now, and they want a say. We should help them get what they want since someday, they will be our doctors.