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More young doctors committed to profession since pandemic

Research finds they are more likely to stay since viral outbreak began despite burnout and other challenges

|Sep 14|magazine7 min read

 Young doctors are more committed to staying in their profession as a result of COVID-19 compared to before the pandemic, new research by Phillips has found. 

Philips’ new Future Health Index research surveyed 500 doctors under the age of 40 in five countries: the US, China, Singapore, France and Germany. The findings reveal how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the attitudes and experiences of younger doctors, and how they believe the healthcare industry should change in response.

Despite the huge challenges the virus has presented healthcare professionals, the survey found that a large number of younger doctors (38%) say they are more likely to stay in medicine as a result of their experiences working during COVID-19. Most (53%) said COVID-19 had no effect on them wanting to stay in or leave the profession, and only 9% said they were more likely to leave the profession.

By comparison, a report by the British Medical Journal published in June said many doctors could quit due to grief or mental health issues. Previously, a 2019 study by the Medical Protection Society (MPS) had found that 45% of UK doctors had considered leaving the profession because of concerns over their wellbeing. 

In fact, many of the doctors surveyed reported changes in their day-to-day work that could lead to increased career and personal satisfaction. 47% said they received greater appreciation from patients, while 44% experienced greater collaboration with colleagues across different skill sets. Younger doctors in China stood out by reporting a deeper feeling of purpose at work (70%) since the onset of COVID-19.

The study also highlighted the increasing value of telehealth and digital health technologies in the fight against the pandemic. 61% of younger doctors ranked telehealth as the digital health technology that would have most improved their experiences during COVID-19, overtaking artificial intelligence (AI) (53%). Meanwhile 44% reported that the pandemic had exposed them to new ways of using digital health technologies.

The doctors said there is room for improvement in how these technologies are used in everyday practice. When asked what would have helped them leverage the health data available to them during the height of the pandemic, nearly half (47%) said better integration of healthcare data between hospitals and healthcare practices and between different IT systems or electronic medical records. The study concluded that younger doctors want to see more use of digital technology in healthcare. 

“Healthcare professionals, including the younger generation, have experienced unprecedented levels of stress and were often faced with limited resources in recent months" said Jan Kimpen, Chief Medical Officer, Royal Philips.

"We must acknowledge the heroic sacrifices that frontline healthcare professionals have endured in the fight against COVID-19. We owe it to them to listen to their voices as we consider the future of the healthcare industry. Our FHI Insights survey reveals that despite the challenges they’ve faced, younger doctors are as committed as ever to their vocation. The research spotlights how young doctors perceive change, and is relevant to leaders focused on reshaping how healthcare is being organized and delivered.”

Philips has been conducting research into the preparedness of countries to address global health challenges since 2016. 

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