Ready or Not: Gen Zers Are Headed to Your Orgs

Yes, Gen Zers are becoming physicians. And that's good news for you.

Mar 29, 2023 | Kate Domin - Doximity Marketing Associate

When we think about generational marketing, it’s often to define and understand our audience. By considering the unique circumstances and cultural touchstones that shaped a generation, generational segmentation can provide deeper insights than simply age group segmentation. But what if we apply the lens of generational marketing to physicians rather than just our consumer audiences? How can understanding generational differences empower better collaboration between marketing teams and physician liaisons, brand ambassadors, and Featured Physicians on Doximity?  

With the excitement of Match Day surrounding hospitals and healthcare systems around the country, a new generation of residents is emerging. This year, the first significant cohort of Gen Z residents have matched with institutions nationwide, kicking off the beginning of their professional careers. Gen Z, as defined by Pew Research, encompasses anyone born from 1997 to 2012. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges' (AAMC) Matriculating Student Questionnaire, approximately 32% of students who enrolled in 2019 were between the ages of 20-22, making them the youngest in their cohorts. Thus, four years later, in 2023, approximately 32% of residents represent the first significant cohort of Gen Z physicians. 

As a Gen Zer myself, I’ve seen the excitement and passion of the most accelerated of my peers as they emerge into the medical profession. Of course, in the past four years, over half of medical students report taking at least one gap year before beginning medical school, meaning that the cohort of Gen Zers in medicine will only be growing in the coming years. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about what this new physician population could mean for your physician outreach campaigns and strategies. 

It’s no secret that Gen Z is comfortable online. Largely cited as the “first generation to never know the world without the internet,” Gen Z relies heavily on digital communication, with a preference for social media. Leverage this digital savvy and excitement to your advantage. Gone are the days of coaxing and begging physicians to participate in video interviews and social media campaigns. This younger generation not only inherently understands the value of social media communication, they’re comfortable on the platforms and can bring new ideas and energy to your outreach programs. 

As far as work style, Gen Zers tend to be highly collaborative, flexible, and pragmatic. They value non-hierarchical leadership and direct communication. In that way, they’re poised to be eager collaborators on projects, as long as you can explain the future-oriented benefits. With their distinct worldview and perspective, they will likely have new approaches to problems and pursue those with efficiency. But, given that Gen Zers are more accustomed to a digital environment, they can get easily frustrated with outdated tools, ideas, and/or ways of doing things. Prepare to engage with Gen Z physicians by staying up to date on technological advances, digital communication channels, and workflow tools. 

Gen Z is also the most diverse generation and is on track to be the best-educated generation yet. A typical Gen Zer strives for diverse community, supports social movements, and values authenticity. This mirrors general clinician audiences who increasingly prefer more inclusive branding and marketing that demonstrates a clear understanding of their patients’ diverse experiences and needs. Lean on your Gen Z physicians’ lived experiences and values to tell inclusive, authentic, and diverse stories.

And, as we think about Gen Z physicians entering the landscape, it’s also important to consider how to reach this new generation with your content. Over 90% of fourth year medical students are members of Doximity, using tools like Residency Navigator before they even graduate medical school. With Doximity’s extensive physician network and segmentation capabilities, you can reach Gen Z physicians with personalized and highly relevant messaging about your organization that resonates with their generational values. 

Using a generational framework is just one way to ensure your message is specific. Read more about another helpful approach to understanding your audience called "persona marketing" here

Image: UC San Diego School of Medicine students celebrate receiving their residency placements on Match Day. Photo: Erik Jepsen/University Communications.