Everybody’s talking about millennials.
They’re self-obsessed and entitled. They’re useless without their smartphones and social media. They’re debt-laden and broke. They’re lazy. They often have roommates, and they call them “Mom” and “Dad.”
Wow, millennials are the worst. So—are you ready to hire one?
There’s a good chance that you’ll be working with millennials in your practice soon, if you aren’t already. If you’re considering taking on an associate OD, this generation offers some interesting challenges and opportunities, just like every generation before it.
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Millennials got a pretty bad reputation in their coming-of-age years. But do they actually live up to those stereotypes?
“There’s a generalized perception that millennials want more than they deserve, that they don’t want to work for it, that they don’t want to put in the time and effort to get where they need to go, that they want things kind of laid out,” says Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board member David Kading, OD, FAAO, co-founder of Optometric Insights.
Dr. Kading and Optometric Insights co-founder and Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board member Mile Brujic, OD, FAAO—who maintains he, too, is a millennial—work with students and young optometrists to give them the tools for optometric success as they transition into practice after graduation.
“There’s a perception from established doctors that millennials aren’t ready to work,” says Dr. Brujic. “I don’t know if there could be a more false statement. Some of the best workers in my mind and the ones who don’t take things for granted are the millennials.”
He says that the millennial generation tends to work differently from other generations, but that doesn’t mean millennials don’t work hard. In fact, says Dr. Brujic, he finds that millennials tend to work smarter because they’re prepared for the digital world.
To a certain extent, some of these negative perceptions may be based on the way this generation grew up, Dr. Kading says. Many members of this generation may not have had to work as hard as previous generations. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to work.
“They still worked hard to get through optometry school,” says Dr. Kading. “There’s still a lot of hope that we’re going to have some great doctors out there. A lot of them are really, really eager to put their noses to the grindstone. We just have to get out there and find them.”
Through his work, Dr. Kading says he’s found the millennial generation to be energetic, full of excitement, eager to learn, and anticipating the future.
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“I think that there are certainly challenges. The biggest part is the differences in generations and the way we see the world,” says Dr. Kading. “Not that any one way is wrong—we’re groomed from our experiences. It’s not a generation’s fault for thinking the way they think, whether it’s a millennial, Generation X, or Generation Y."
In addition to being a millennial himself, Matt Geller, OD, is the founder of OptometryStudents.com and NewGradOptometry.com, so he spends a lot of time working with millennial ODs. He says the generation is often misunderstood by older generations and that millennials’ bad reputation is really the product of global changes.
“This isn’t just people desiring to behave a certain way—we’re ‘addicted to technology’ because that’s where social interactions happen,” he says. “Lazy is a misnomer, I think, because we are used to automation, and we’re used to being able to get things quickly, and when when a slower way comes along, we say ‘wait a second, there is a much better, faster and more efficient way to do this.’ So it’s not necessarily laziness—it’s just having a different set of expectations.
“I think the paradigm or the framing of it all is wrong—we’re labeled as lazy, addicted to technology, need instant gratification, when in fact what it is that the people who are judging us don’t understand our generation. They’re not looking at it from our eyes,” he says.