Generation Z: A Look at the Next Generation of Medical Scribes

The future looks bright for Generation Z! Gen Z, for short, consist of those born between 1990 and 1999. This generation makes up 30% of the U.S. population, the largest percentage, contributes $44 billion to the American economy, and in the next few years, they’ll make up 20% of the workforce. When asked to name the industries Gen Zers are most interested in, technology-related professions were most popular (45%), and healthcare ranked a few spots behind at 14%.

Here’s some insight into what sets this generation apart, and how medical scribing fits their personalities and lifestyles.

Work Ethic and Stability

While Millennials love the gig economy, research shows Gen Z prefers steady paychecks. They view college as not only an experience but as an investment. Gen Z is much more pragmatic and a lot more prepared, a worldview they’re likely to carry with them as they start their careers.

Members of Generation Z don’t envision starting at the top, but rather recognize the training it takes to get there. 77% of Gen Zers believe they will need to work harder compared to those in past generations to have a satisfying and fulfilling professional life. This is good news in the scribe field, where ambitious learners can get a head start on building relationships with healthcare providers, and set the course for success in medicine.

But don’t try to impress this generation with fancy job titles. In recent research on Gen Zers, the opportunity for career growth was the most commonly cited career priority, with 64% of respondents ranking it among their top three. A prestigious job title was only cited as a priority by 3%.

Plus, size and stability are professional priorities for this generation. When you think about the uncertainty that has shaped their young lives – school shootings, terrorism, the financial crisis – it’s no surprise they’re looking for security from the start of their careers. While millennials crave open-concept startups and the freelance way of life, 41% of Gen Zers described midsize organizations as the ideal work environment, followed by large organizations (38%). And good news for Gen Zers — Several hospitals and health systems are listed on Forbes’ list of Best Midsize Employers, many of whom utilize medical scribes across departments.

The Most Connected Generation

When communicating with Gen Zers, it’s best to be fast, engaging, and authentic. They’re used to the immediacy of social media, and they look for images to convey a message. Does this mean integrating emojis (the image-based, “native” language of many Gen Zers) into future Electronic Medical Records? Perhaps.

They’ve never known life without the internet, so when it comes to information-seeking, members of Gen Z are by far the most tech savvy, connected and self-educated group. And while it may be tempting to think Gen Zers prefer to communicate screen-to-screen, the truth is that 74% prefer to communicate face-to-face with their co-workers.

But for many Gen Zers, work has a deeper meaning. When you look at the next generation entering the workforce, “they have an underlying desire to shape where they work; to make a contribution, to see that the role they play has a direct tie to a benefit in society,” says Jim Link, chief human resources officer with Randstad North America.

This concept of making a direct tie to society resonates with medical scribes because their role is essential to improving patient care and relieving physician burnout. The number of patients that clinicians see each day is on the rise, leaving them little time to complete documentation, billing, and coding requirements. Having access to medical scribes frees up a physician’s time and allows them to focus on providing the better patient care, and at the same time, the scribes can observe and learn from the physician-patient interactions.

Meaningful Mentorship

In a recent survey, when asked where they saw themselves in five years, more than half of Gen Z respondents said that they expect to either be in management or working their way toward a managerial role. Generation Z will be looking to their bosses to help provide development, training and inspiration.

Being born into the digital age means that Gen Zers exist in a state of near-constant learning, overloaded with information. Their mentors need to teach them about prioritizing and contextualizing. Generation Z may also need to learn some general life skills.

Though it’s true that Generation Z workers may be the most tech-savvy generation, they’re more likely to need coaching in soft skills than some of their predecessors. Gen Z professionals are full of potential, but these young adults need support in harnessing their enthusiasm to address real-world employment situations, such as the need to communicate more formally in certain situations, dealing with stress, and staying positive when things go wrong. Employers can close the gap on these skills by embracing Gen Zers’ interest in collaborating with team members.