Locum Tenens Enhances Work/Life Balance for Each Generation
Nearly every physician has experienced the effects of burnout at some point in their career, according to the fourth annual Medical Economics Physician Burnout and Wellness Survey published last year. Indeed, almost three-fourths of respondents indicated they were experiencing the effects at the time of taking the survey.
When it comes to burnout among healthcare providers, there are some commonalities regardless of age, gender, or specialty. Broad symptoms include feelings of cynicism, lack of energy, and professional disillusionment. Additionally, there’s general agreement that poor work/life balance is a main contributing factor. But then again, it’s equally noteworthy to observe the key differentiators among groups. For example, the details of what work/life integration entails oftentimes differ along generational lines.
The locum tenens lifestyle offers clinicians of every age group the chance to structure their careers according to their own ideas of what constitutes a better balance between professional and personal lives.
Baby Boomers Ease into Retirement
Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers account for nearly 45 percent of practicing physicians, according to a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). After building long careers, you are now eyeing retirement. Or maybe you like the idea of semi-retirement because you still have a lot to contribute professionally but do not wish to work the same 40- to 60-hour weeks you have for most of your career. In fact, you may even prefer the option to accept a locum tenens job every few weeks or months, enough to keep skills sharp and make a positive impact on patients. A locum tenens practice allows much more time to pursue personal interests that perhaps were set aside earlier in your career due to professional workload.
Generation X Assumes More Family Obligations
Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen X providers find themselves as the newest sandwich generation: caring for children still living at home, attending to the needs of aging parents, and still engaged in full-time careers. Also, you probably have advanced professionally to incorporate leadership, administrative, or teaching responsibilities in addition to clinical hours. Personal demands on top of a full professional schedule lead to very busy lives. Additionally, this demographic tends to carry greater debt loads than older physicians and advanced practice providers, from mortgages and your own medical school loans to covering education costs for your children.
A preferred work/life integration for Gen Xers may include more schedule flexibility to attend to family needs as well as to enjoy time together beyond special occasions and vacations. Switching to a full-time locum tenens career offers the opportunity to block out periods between assignments so you are free to coach children, regularly check in on parents, or engage in your own leisure activities more frequently. The career alternative also holds fewer administrative responsibilities so you can direct more attention to patient care.
Plus, the occasional locum tenens job in addition to a permanent position can supplement income to help pay down debt or boost retirement savings.
Millennials Reset Expectations
Born between 1981 and 1997, most older Millennials have been established in their practices for several years and the youngest members are wrapping up training and seeking their first post-residency role. However, this generation prefers to break from traditional careers. Numerous surveys show Millennials value work/life balance as much as income and employment perks (or more, in some cases). They expect more employer investment into supporting provider well-being, which may include fewer hours on the job. Taking care of oneself by integrating more non-clinical interests is essential to this generation for both personal and professional satisfaction.
Locum tenens professionals appreciate the decision-making authority you can exercise over work schedules. Turn assignments into working vacations or explorations. Short- or long-term contracts can serve as the means to indulge in hobbies, sports, and other interests while also caring for patients and expanding your skill set at each facility.
Generation Z Watches from the Wings
Born between 1997 and 2012, the oldest Gen Zers are early in their medical school careers: however, they are looking ahead to what type of work/life balance they hope to strike after training. Research of Gen Z professionals in other industries indicate schedule flexibility, such as taking off for mental health days, will be just as valuable early in one’s medical career as earning potential.
The locum tenens career alternative offers more flexibility and freedom, and it’s a viable option to pursue right out of residency without being confined to a long-term employment contract. You’ll also have the option to travel to various communities, discover regional cultures, and assess future personal and professional goals based on the experiences you accumulate along the locum tenens journey.
Regardless of which generation you belong to, the locum tenens lifestyle can enhance the goal to better blend your professional and private worlds.