Just how dedicated are younger physicians?

April 1, 2004



Most older physicians who put in long hours and late nights believe they are dedicated professionals, but they question the dedication of their younger colleagues according to a survey of 436 physicians.

The Merritt, Hawkins, & Associates survey found that not one respondent believed that physicians entering the profession are "more dedicated and hardworking" than those who joined the ranks 20 or 30 years ago. Indeed, nearly two thirds of physicians between 50 and 65 years perceive today's physicians as "less dedicated and hardworking."

That perception, however, is challenged by younger physicians who say lifestyle considerations are helping to shape their practices and create a healthier profession. "Just because younger doctors are getting better at setting boundaries between their professional and personal lives doesn't mean they are less committed. Without those boundaries, physicians risk burnout and being committed—to a rehab unit," family physician Douglas Farrago, MD, 38, told American Medical News (2/2/04).

Part of this change in attitude in practicing medicine can be explained by the increasing number of women entering medical school. As more and more female physicians join the profession, an emphasis on lifestyle issues, such as raising a family, will be mixed in with career choices.