Healthcare Staffing Resources

Understanding millennial physicians: Compensation, technology, and work/life balance

Millennial physician

The mention of “millennials” usually brings to mind young people who are constantly on their phones. But in reality, the oldest millennials are nearing 40 this year. In the healthcare world, this means millennial physicians are entering the workforce in ever increasing numbers while Baby Boomer physicians (now in their 60s and 70s) are moving toward retirement. With a growing physician shortage, healthcare organizations need to understand how best to attract, hire, and retain this new generation of millennial doctors to enhance their physician recruitment strategies.

millennial physician with patient

Understanding millennials

Often unfairly stereotyped as lazy, entitled, and whiny, millennials simply have a different approach to work than Baby Boomers — based largely on their unique life experiences. Millennials have grown up in a world saturated by technology, heavily influenced by the financial collapse of the early 2000s.

Now that they’re out of school and looking for jobs, they are faced with student loan debt far larger than any previous generation. These experiences have fostered in them a sense of responsibility and hard work. However, because they’ve seen burnout in their parents and mentors, they’re also seeking a lifestyle with a healthy work/life balance.

To address the unique needs and goals of millennials, organizations should focus on three key areas when it comes to attracting and retaining this generation of doctors:

  1. Offering competitive compensation and benefits
  2. Implementing the latest technology
  3. Supporting work/life balance

Competitive compensation and benefits

When adjusted for inflation, today’s millennials carry on average two and a half times more school debt than Baby Boomers had when they graduated from college. As a result, many millennials are highly motivated to earn as much as possible as quickly as possible to pay off their debt. Because they are acutely aware of their precarious financial position, many millennials seek out the highest-paid positions available and won’t hesitate to switch jobs for greater compensation. Although older generations may view this as a lack of loyalty and focus, millennials — on the contrary — consider it practical to move up the financial ladder as swiftly as possible.

For example, Dr. Ali Chaudhary, a millennial emergency medicine physician, accepted a prestigious position at one of the busiest surgery centers in the U.S. right after residency. But with medical school debt hanging over his head, he looked into supplementing his income with locum tenens work in order to pay his debt down quicker. “I was getting paid more doing locums than I was at my full-time job,” Dr. Chaudhary says. “I could work the same amount and make a lot more money. Staying at my full-time job didn’t make any sense from a financial standpoint.”

Dr. Chaudhary chose to leave his full-time job because of the financial realities of his situation. So, when looking to improve your millennial physician recruitment and retention strategies, keep in mind the financial pressure they are under. Offering competitive compensation, generous benefits, and extra programs like student loan repayment, are highly attractive to millennial physicians.


Most millennials cannot remember a time before the internet existed. They’ve grown up in a world where they can get virtually any information they want with the click of a button. They’re used to using technology to make their lives easier and more efficient and may get quickly frustrated with outdated, inefficient systems — even if older physicians are comfortable with them. Not only are they used to using the latest technology to their advantage, they are also extremely flexible when it comes to learning new systems or making changes to current ones. They’ll handle changes to electronic medical record systems (EMRs) easily and will probably welcome the change if it will allow them to work more quickly and get home faster at the end of the day.

Millennials will turn to technological solutions first before exploring more traditional avenues. This attitude could have a huge impact on your hiring practices. For example, be sure to include a social media aspect to your recruitment efforts. Millennial doctors are on Doximity, Facebook, and LinkedIn, among others, and will use social media to research and vet potential employers. A comprehensive website — as well as social media channels that illustrate a clear picture of your organization’s culture — will go a long way toward demonstrating your commitment to technology and make you appear more attractive to millennial doctors.

smiling millennial physician

Work/life balance

Millennials want all aspects of their life to contribute to their overall sense of wellbeing. Where Baby Boomers were content to work hard at their jobs and reserve personal fulfillment for their family and social life, millennials want their job and their personal life to work together for their benefit. They crave a positive balance to prevent their work from taking over their lives and creating burnout.

Recently, CHG Healthcare conducted a survey of early-career physicians which found that a significant chunk (85%) of physicians say having a good work/life balance in their career is the most important factor in choosing their first job. This underscores the need to offer and advertise the opportunity for work/life balance at your facility when recruiting millennial candidates.

To minimize attrition, it’s crucial to also offer schedule flexibility. A recent study found that physicians are choosing to change jobs at an alarming rate, 64% of physicians citing the pandemic as the cause of this change. Cited as the primary motivators are a lack of work/life balance (35.2%), increased compensation (12.6%), and more flexibility (11.3%).

Organizations can attract and retain millennial physicians more effectively by offering scheduling flexibility and generous vacation time. Many millennials don’t want to deal with the stress of being on call 24 hours a day that many older physicians may have simply accepted as part of the job. When they go home at the end of their day, they want to know they can relax. And if they need to take time off for a personal emergency or just to recharge, they want to know it will be available to them.

Samantha Stallings, senior operations analyst at Lexington Medical Center, offers that, for millennials, “a work/life balance could include letting the physician have control over planning their clinic schedule, even if it means they are off one workday each week. It could also include hiring well-trained clinical staff so that they can help the physician provide high-quality care in an efficient manner in order to help the physician end their clinic day on time.”

The millennial advantage

Millennials doctors are hardworking, resourceful, and use technology to their advantage. They can be a huge asset to your organization, but they also need to know that they’re being compensated fairly, and that their personal life will not suffer because of their job. Organizations that can demonstrate their commitment to technology, a healthy work/life balance, and competitive compensation will have a competitive advantage when it comes to their millennial physician recruitment strategies.

Need help with physician staffing? Weatherby can provide highly qualified locum tenens physicians in 70 specialties. Give us a call at 844.897.3215 to learn more.

About the author

James Gunter

James Gunter is a freelance writer and editor. He specializes in writing for healthcare, marketing, essays, narrative non-fiction, and technical writing. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.