By 2025, the Millennial Generation Will Dominate Lab, Pathology Workforce

The millennial generation wants guidance, latest tech, work-life balance

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This is an excerpt of a 2,576-word article in the July 22, 2019 issue of THE DARK REPORT (TDR). The full articles are available to members of The Dark Intelligence Group.

CEO SUMMARY: Within five years, members of the millennial generation will make up 75% of the physician workforce in the United States,according to a recently published study in theJournal of the American Medical Association, rising from about 24% in 2017. That three-fold increase represents a strong demographic trend that will require changes in the steps all clinical laboratories and pathology groups take when seeking to attract and retain clinical laboratory professionals and pathologists born between 1981 and 1996.

Second of Two Parts

SINCE MEMBERS OF THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION entered the workforce, anatomic pathology groups and clinical laboratories have found that recruiting, hiring, and retaining these professionals can be much more challenging than hiring members of earlier generations.

“Demographic changes are bringing millennials into the healthcare workforce in greater numbers,” said Rich Cornell, President and Founder of Santé Consulting, a recruitment firm in St. Louis that specializes in filling positions in anatomic and clinical laboratories at the director level and above.

“Members of the millennial generation—those born between 1981 and 1996—are not as focused on career planning or as driven by career goals as those in generation X—meaning 1965 to 1980—or as single-minded about work and their careers as were members of the baby boom generation—those born from 1946 to 1964,” he added.

“Most leaders in the lab industry have yet to appreciate the effect the millennial generation will have on the laboratory workforce,” observed Cornell.

“To put that proportion into perspective, consider that less than 24% of all physicians with an active license in the United States were millennials in 2017, according to the Federation of State Medical Boards,” he said. “Therefore, a physician workforce that is 75% millennials by 2025 represents a transformation in the laboratory workforce.

“This trend makes it imperative that the management of pathology groups and clinical laboratories understand how to attract, hire, and retain millennials,” Cornell advised during a presentation at THE DARK REPORT’S Executive War College in New Orleans in May.

Part one of this series was based on Cornell’s presentation and published in the June 10, 2019 issue of THE DARK REPORT, as Fewer Pathologists Means Tighter Market for Jobs. It covers the current market trends in pathologist hiring, compensation, and subspecialist demand.

Part two deals with how the millennial generation is about to have major influence on the staffing and operation of the nation’s clinical labs and pathology groups.

“The demographic wave of millennials means that—to fill open positions—clinical lab directors and pathology groups will need to recognize that the millennial generation has different career needs and interests than those of previous generations,” commented Cornell.

“Generational differences are most visible in the fact that the younger millennial physicians aren’t as interested in traditional partnership-type settings, compared with Gen Xers or baby boomers,” he said. “Instead, they pay more attention to worklife balance, compensation, quality of life, and having access to the latest technology.”

A strong interest in the latest technology extends to all forms of computers, reporting platforms, microscopes, digital pathology, and processors that they expect to find in clinical laboratories and pathology groups, Cornell explained.

A Keen Interest in Technology

“Because of their deep interest in technology, any lab or group making an offer to millennials will need to include a technology package,” he said. That package should include at least a new computer, a laptop, and a new microscope. Those are all standard.

In placing millennial-generation pathologists, Cornell identified other conditions of employment. “Physicians in the millennial generation want at least five to 10 days annually for continuing medical education, five paid sick days a year, and three personal days,” he said.

“In addition, they want paid time off— including three to four weeks of vacation time,” he added. “As a result, we see more pathology groups offer four weeks of vacation for new hires.”

One factor that may hurt pathology groups when recruiting millennial pathologists is a conservative tendency toward paid time off.

Assess Your Interview-to-Hire Ratio

While the first step when recruiting young pathologists is to understand what millennials want, the next step involves assessing how recruits react once they interview at your laboratory. That process starts with an assessment of a pathology group’s interview-to-hire ratio to assess how many interviews it conducts before it gets one new hire.

“When a clinical laboratory or a pathology group wants to know how it can attract top talent, it first needs to understand its strategy for hiring,” Cornell explained. “To do that, we track the number of candidates who interview and compare it to the number of successful hires. That’s known as the interview-to-hire ratio.

“Next, the pathology group must know what it spends on interviewing,” he added. “The average interview costs between $1,500 and $2,000 per candidate.

Watch for Stress or Boredom

“In addition to accurate interview budgets, labs or path groups seeking to fill multiple positions must watch for stress or boredom among interviewers,” he warned. “A pathology group is likely to have two or three people involved in the interview process. Over time, it’s not unusual for the individuals interviewing candidates to get burned out.

“Those individuals can go to only so many dinners and interview only so many candidates before the process becomes mundane. When that happens, they could lose interest,” he commented. “That factor alone will affect your group’s ability to hire people and its interview-to-hire ratio.

“Another factor that affects the interview-to-hire ratio is whether the open position is for a specialist or a sub-specialist,” explained Cornell.

Is your lab trying to hire millennials, and if so, how are you approaching the challenge? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


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