In the Portland, Ore., area, where the unemployment rate is a low 3.8 percent, finding qualified healthcare employees is an ongoing challenge, says Rahul Desai, MD. In recent years, Desai has found a number of quality employees for his practice by hiring workers in their early 20s.
A tight talent market isn’t just a Portland problem: Healthcare practices across the country are struggling to find experienced employees, and young workers may offer a solution.
Generation Z, loosely defined as those born in 1995 or after, is the newest generation to enter the workforce. These young people came of age during the Great Recession and don’t remember a world without social media and mobile technology. Their unique experiences mean many of them bring to the workplace a strong work ethic, desire for teamwork and a high comfort level with technology. Here’s what physician practice leaders need to know about this next generation of workers.
What Gen Zs can bring to your practice
As the first true digital natives, members of Gen Z have been exposed to the internet, social networks and smart devices from their earliest years. Those experiences have “produced a hypercognitive generation very comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing many sources of information and with integrating virtual and offline experiences,” according to research from McKinsey & Company.
That ability to move seamlessly between virtual and offline experiences means these young adults may be able to interact with patients of all ages in the formats they prefer. And the ability to manage information from a variety of sources means they can expertly handle tasks such as synthesizing patient data from interviews and charts to make informed decisions.
For instance, Desai hires medical scribes who are frequently in their early 20s to greet patients, take vital signs and discuss medical histories at the practice he owns, Restore PDX, a regenerative medicine practice in Beaverton, Ore. “They fill out a form while asking the patient questions, and then give me a 5-minute concise report,” Desai says.
Most members of Gen Z value authenticity and have a strong desire to make an impact on the world around them. “The ability to make a difference is the most important thing that I look for in a job,” says Carleigh Stewart, a 24-year-old medical assistant at an allergy clinic in Florence, Ala. “Salary is also important to me; however, if I am not making a difference, work seems pointless to me.”
Young workers’ willingness to rally around a cause they believe in makes them valuable healthcare employees, Desai says. “They see people in a state of disrepair and then see how we help them. Our work is consistent with their beliefs societally and globally, so they can get on board with it. It’s nice to see our ideals are congruent with this generation.”
Related: 4 ways to recruit Gen Z workers