Doctoring Reflection

Are young doctors afraid of this…

Last night at dinner, I had the chance to speak with a residency program director. The topic of young doctors came up. As is often the case when doctors of my generation talk about younger doctors, the issue of attitudes on work and life came to the fore.

We olders like to bemoan the crazy ideas of the new generation. We are perplexed that young doctors focus so strongly on finding balance in life.

What are they thinking?

Somehow I can’t help wondering whether the youngers worry about what Harry Chapin sings:

Maybe they are onto something? Maybe they have figured out that even doctors get only one crack at life?


8 replies on “Are young doctors afraid of this…”

I would say YES. I have a friend who works in a doctors office (for over 20+ years) and she has noticed a huge difference in the hours the doctors now keep due to family obligations. I think it extends to a lot of professions these days too. Maybe the younger generation did not like that their parents left them for so many hours as they worked long hours. We all have just CRACK at it and would you be thinking of work or your family on your deathbed?

As we all work to achieve work/life balance, we must not lose sight of the enormous responsibility that we voluntarily take upon ourselves when we choose to become caregivers.

If a physician is not prepared to give his patients his “A game” every time he or she enters into a patient relationship, then that person has no business becoming a doctor.

Those looking for more “life” in their work/life relationship will still need to play the game in residency, and play by the rules (just like they had to study hard and get good grades in biochem). Whey they enter their careers, they should then be prepared to see less patients and/or work in a less intense field. With less work comes less money. If everybody’s OK with that I have no problem. I just hope there will be enough crazy people to take care of me and my family if they really get sick.


So well said. Thanks for weighing in my friend.

That’s the worry isn’t it? At this moment, citizens of the US are fortunate to have the fury of modern medicine at their beck and call. That’s because there are doctors who were willing to pay their dues in long training programs. The hand surgeon who restored my career trained more than decade to learn that skill. You and I did the same to learn how to care for the heart rhythm. And so on. I get the feeling though, that guys like us–who would do it all again, even knowing the smaller monetary treasure that awaits–may be in the minority. Check that, that was pessimistic.

Sure there will be plenty of doctors. People don’t go into Medicine for the money!

I think that whole generation is very sensitive to work life balance. They were really the first generation of Americans where most children were raised in daycare. They usually only saw their parents for a few short hours a day that were filled with dinner preparations and homework review. The most quality time they got during the week was the bedtime story. While I think that generations determination to be present in their family life is admirable, it does come with a cost as is stated in the comment above. The family is going to have to be satisfied with less material possessions and their patients are going to have to be satisfied with urgent care medicine and pharmacy based clinics for non-emergent acute care. It probably works for most people, but it isn’t good for people like me with multiple chronic conditions.

WOW – It was great to see this video of this song by Harry Chapin. It IS a balance between studying hard to earn the degree and get the training to attain that specialized field … There is definitely a change in the new generation.

The change that bothered me most during my last few years of teaching medicine (say ~2008-to-2010ish) – was that expectations overall of the new generation of doctors-in-training seemed higher. It is one thing to select a less demanding path – but quite another to “expect” that even that path be given on silver platter … I worry about teachers (be they professors or grade school teachers) whose salary and job status is dependent on great part on the evaluations of students who may rate lower if they don’t “like” the homework they are given …

It is difficult to generalize – and clearly there are LOTS of wonderful young learners out there – but as a whole (from my perspective) – I was struck by my observation that expectations of the newer generation for “Give me” seemed higher despite an overall lower motivation for “putting in the time” … Like Dr. John – I found myself a bit pessimistic (unlike me) …

Every time I hear Harry Chapin’s song I am moved …

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