Millennial dental professionals may have noticed already but there is someone new entering the dental industry. Meet Generation Z! In our previous Dentist Demographic blog post, we cover the generational shift from Baby Boomers to Millennials taking over the dental world. Now, with the next generation up and coming into the dental scene, what do you have to look forward to?
You may be thinking of Gen Z as much younger than they actually are. But Generation Z consists of those born between roughly 1997 and 2012; they are not all TikTok’s and dance moves. Without taking into consideration that you can be a dental hygienist or dental assistant as early as 18, on average, most can finish dental school by age 26. Millennials, you may not be retiring any time soon unlike the Baby Boomers that come before you, but you are going to have to share the stage. The good news is, that they are here to learn from you as much as you can learn a lot from them.
In offices across the nation, it’s more than just two generations meeting each other in professional settings. Though Millennials and Gen Z can be close in aspects of technology, there’s a wide range of ages visiting the dentist. Much like Baby Boomers, Millennials who have gotten used to visiting dentists the same age or older than themselves, now need to make a mental shift and accept that health care providers are, increasingly, younger than themselves. Can the generations adapt? Here’s what to keep in mind:
For the Millennials
- Accept the changes. The routine, the procedures, the equipment, and decor—even the way they talk and relate—may be different than what you are used to. Be accepting. Different doesn’t mean worse.
- Looks can be deceiving. The new dentist may look young, but the work and knowledge are well in place. Much like the dentists you are used to, they’ve put in the work and schooling and gained the knowledge to do the job right. In fact, new, updated knowledge is in place, along with new technology and new research to teach them to do better!
- Respect. Trust in them that they are working to provide the best quality of care for patients. It may not look, feel, or sound like what you are used to, but no one can benefit from making constant comparisons to the way things used to be. Every medical field benefits from innovation.
For the Gen Z
- Embrace and acknowledge your differences. Dental professionals older than you have different experiences and outlooks. It is not to say one method or means has a higher value. No matter if the patients are older, younger, or somewhere in between, all patients, whatever age group, should be treated with the same professional approach. This may require you to broaden your understanding of patient care across the ages. You never truly stop learning.
- Be patient. Those older than you, patients, or fellow providers, are not all being intentionally rude or distrustful. They are merely adjusting to change; adjustments might take a while.
- Respect. Respect goes both ways; For patients and peers. As your patients should respect you as their provider, you should respect them as your patients. It’ll be a learning curve and adjustment on all sides. Embrace the change and the struggles that may come with it
Millennials, when given the chance Generation Z may exceed your expectations. Generation Z, take the time to care and learn from the Millennials. In hindsight, you may not be all that different. It will take working together to accomplish your most important goal, providing the best dental service to your patients.