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Generational differences in how physicians view work and life

The Health Blog has an interesting piece today on generational differences in the way physicians view work-life balance. Writer Katherine Hobson talked with Sharon Phelan, MD, a University of New Mexico obstetrician, who recently penned an Obstetrics & Gynecology commentary (subscription required) on the issue:

Many older physicians – she includes herself in this group – have “tended to live our lives around our careers, with our families secondary,” Phelan tells the Health Blog. “The younger generation refuses to do that. They may have a more even-keeled approach to it or even believe that personal life takes priority over work life.” That means they’re more open to shiftwork and more likely to emphasize a team approach to care. (That attitude is not limited to younger women, she notes; men, too, are putting more emphasis on their family life.)

The clash comes from how this translates to “appropriate” care for patients, she says. “The risk is that the more senior folks think the newer folks don’t care and that they’re not professional, and look down on them,” she says. “Meantime some of the younger folks have lost respect for the older folks – they think they’re incredibly misdirected in their emphasis” on work above all else.

Phelan went on to suggest that these differing point of views be addressed in the clinical setting. “It isn’t the end-all answer to everything, but it provides a structure to look at some of the conflicts in the workplace,” she said.

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