Sunday, March 29, 2009

Millennium Generation in Health Care

For the past few months, I have heard more references to the Millennium Generation than I had in the last year. In giving workshops on teaching techniques, the subject has come up. At a recent meeting, a respected leader asked whether the incentive packages needed to be changed to factor in the values of the Millennium Generation. So being the dutiful “baby boomer” that I am, I felt the responsibility to learn more (and bring you all in on the lesson).

The Millennium Generation or Generation Y (approx. 1980 – 2000) are just entering our graduate schools, medical schools and residencies and they are making an impact. According to experts, we can expect a different set of values and expectations from this group of young people and potential conflict with older “baby booming” authority figures.

Some of the common characteristics of the Millennium Generation noted by observers are:

  • Tech savvy – They grew up with computers and relate to the world through technology. This characteristic can also lead to the tendency to be impatient and expect instant gratification
  • Image driven, sometimes called “trophy children”. They grew up being told they were “special”. This belief can sometimes lead to a false sense of entitlement.
  • Value personal time and time for family, they believe they should be able to “have it all”
  • Efficient multi-taskers (see tech savvy)
  • Adaptable. Some attribute this to their early entry into “day care”, “early team sports” and doting parents who included children in all types of activities and travel. Whatever the reason, the Generation “Y”ers believe they can “get it done”

Do we change the system to adapt to this new generation? Or should we change at all?

What kind of educational systems will appeal to the best and brightest of this generation?

Have any of you thought this through?

Have you noted any differences in the last few classes that have entered your graduate schools, medical schools or residency programs? Or is this all "psycho-babble"?

Do you have any advice for the rest of us? We would love to hear what you think!

February-March Summary (Technology and Teaching)

The topic of Technology and Teaching did bring out some strong feelings and some really great ideas. The article that sparked this discussion suggested that “skills in critical thinking and analysis” had declined as a result of the use of technology in learning environments. Now that is a pretty bold statement and a very general one. Are all forms of technology to blame? That hardly seems likely as technology is a multifaceted tool that has many applications. So what could it be about technology that could result in these findings? Our readers commented and their comments fell into 3-4 categories.

  • Five of the 17 responders believed that their residents and students had “lost skill”. Three of the responder thought this might be attributed to “speed” of connectivity and searches. According to our readers’ thinking, students and residents quickly search using key words and don’t think things through or critically analyze. They have an answer before they have really thought out the question. I tend to agree with this point of view. Google anything and you will receive multiple answers. Analyzing the quality of those answers is another story. This however does not mean that technology is a villain. The tool is not to blame. Could we as teachers expect more from our learners? Should we teach them how to use the technology tools that science has given the? Yes, of course.

  • Another group seemed generally “miss-trustful” of too much technology.

  • The third group of responders really explored technology as a tool. As Neil so aptly stated, “technology gets bad press when it might just be the teaching method that is at fault” Often, technology is just a “delivery method”. Of course it can be more and we have to monitor how we use technology as a part of our repertoire of methods and tools. If critical thinking is what we want, then we need to consider how best to stimulate our learners to analyze.