Are young physicians better?
I started to lose count the amount of times I heard ” Are you my Doctor? Wow you look so young”. For my patients seeing a physician under the age of 40 has been quite an adjustment. Many of them go through stages of grief during the appointment because the idea that someone as young as their children or grandchildren could be in charge of their health care seems too great.
Usually the appointments go like this
I'm sorry are you really my doctor?
You can't be my doctor, how old are you?
Are you taking over for your dad or something?
Wow I can't believe someone younger than my kid is going to take care me?
Ok I guess I don't have a choice.
As a medicine resident one of my favorite attendings would refer to the newest generation of physicians as the cookbook generation. He always felt that our generation of physicians always had a pocket reference on standby, whether it be a book in our white coat or an app on our phone. He would always remind me and the other residents that his generation of doctors were the thinkers and it was why they could take care of patients better and even though I would argue against his point it fell on deaf ears.
Well look what we have here…
It seems that research done by the Harvard School of Public Health, indicates in an observational study that patients who were treated by older physicians tend to have higher morality(death) rates than those taken care of by younger physicians.
I would love to be able to go back in time to that attending to get his thoughts on the findings because I am sure he would trying to find every loophole to explain it away. I of course for obvious reasons always felt that younger physicians took care of patients better but now I have some research data to back it up.
Why you need to go younger
Make no mistake I don't want my readers to just go out and leave their physicians behind because of a few gray hairs, my goal today is to make sure that when you do see some younger physician like myself taking care of that you don't go running out the door. These are some of the reasons why I feel going younger is better.
Younger physicians are quicker to adopt to technological changes
Younger physicians tend to rely more on research based evidence
Younger physicians tend to be more tech savvy
Older physicians are more likely more resistant to clinical practice changes, relying more on experience
Because of the lack of time (Experience) younger physicians are less likely to continue a treatment regimen that doesn't produce results quickly
Where do we go from here
Now the study I mentioned doesn't necessarily say stay away from old doctors but it does begin to lay down the groundwork on a path were we see physician age being less of a concern on who can take care of you. Some pointers I leave you with is to make sure that your doctor whether young or old is this:
Does your doctor have a website? In this day and age its almost a requirement
Does you doctor have a presence outside of their office? Social Media will soon be a requirement for physicians
Is your doctor the type to just refer everything out or do they try and keep everything in house? Goes back to how much does your doctor know
When something isn't working how long does it take your doctor to try something new? Remember old physicians tend to be stubborn because of their “experience”
At the end of the day do you feel that you can trust this person with your life? If there is any hesitation in that answer than leave today
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