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Whether staff, patients, or even your physicians, millennials possess a unique set of characteristics. Here's what you need to know to reach them.
"Millennials do not trust you. Whether you are a manager, a physician, or anyone who they don't believe has earned their respect. Once you get that in your mind, you can manage them better."
With that, Kyle Matthews, practice administrator for CardioVascular Associates of Mesa in Arizona, set the stage for discussing the impact of millennials - those born between 1980 and 1996 - on medicine, whether they are patients, medical practice staff, or physicians. Matthews, a millennial himself, shared his perspective as part of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Conference in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday (Oct. 13).
One of the negatives about this generation, as well as one of the positives, said Matthews, was a strong focus on self.
"We care about number one and that's it - ourselves," he said. "But we also hold back. As managers, we want to know what you are thinking and if you are not telling me, that's a problem."
The focus on self becomes a positive, he noted, as millennials are independent as well as ambitious and innovative. "We find new ways to address old problems."
The key to interactions with millennials in medicine, said Matthews, boils down to earning their respect.
"If you mentor and teach us something you earn our respect … and we will be loyal to you to the end," he said.
One of the pitfalls of millennial physicians is that they will not work 24/7, as hours are irrelevant to them and work-life balance is of utmost importance. That doesn't mean this generation aren't hard workers, Matthews said, it just means that practice managers and administrations need to learn how to manage those characteristics properly.
"Hours are not important [for millennials]," he said, "… they want performance based on outcomes, not on the number of hours they put in over a week."
When it comes to private practice, Matthews said there are advantages - such as setting their own schedules - and disadvantages - like wondering why to hire a manager when they are of the mindset they can do everything themselves.
"I've heard that millennials won’t join private practice and I can see that happening at first," Matthews said. "I think they will choose a hospital or health system [out of medical school], because of things being taken care of for them [and other reasons]. But after two or three years, with all the nonclinical staff and administrators around them, they'll wonder, 'What are these people doing for me? I can do it better myself.'"
Millennial Practice Staff
Your millennial staff shares the same characteristics as their physician peers and to get the most out of them, Matthews advised, encourage them, ask what they need, give them constant challenges, and meaningful outcomes. Millennials prefer measurable outcomes, so provide them.
"Millennials want to be part of a team where their contributions are valued and recognized," he said. "If you say 'thank you' for your contributions and for your work … you will have great morale."
He did caution that soliciting feedback from staff should also come with real-time results and answers to be sure those contributions are recognized and acted upon.
Linking back to his initial statement on trust, Matthews said the millennial generation lacks trust in physicians, thinking they are in the profession for money and in a different social class than they are. That said, you need to make yourself accessible to them, whether it is ensuring your information is online and easy to find, making your patient portal relevant - again, what is in it for them - and avoiding phone calls and voicemails at all costs; both are lost on millennials.
And his number one tip for millennial patients: never, ever reschedule them.
"If you cannot keep an appointment with us, we won't keep an appointment with you and we will switch doctors," Matthews said. "You know how some practices have that wrinkled piece of paper that states that if you miss an appointment, you will pay a $25 fee? If you reschedule me, you should pay me."