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True or False? Age Discrimination is Alive and Well in the USA

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  • True or False? Age Discrimination is Alive and Well in the USA

    Most of the discussions here are about retiring early. The last 10 years of a career usually have a large impact on the retirement basket.
    Beyond the typical "generational trash talk", the premise is that AGE alone can have huge impact on the ability of an individual to obtain employment. With the assumption that skills and no personality issues, I was curious if Age Discrimination is reality in you personal observations, primarily for physicians and at what age?
    Private practice or academic, would age alone disqualify a candidate ? (no need to rationalize it, the physician is too old for a fit, yes age prejudice).

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ba...?siteid=yhoof2
    24
    No age factor
    33.33%
    8
    Starts about 40
    4.17%
    1
    Starts about 50
    62.50%
    15
    Last edited by Tim; 07-05-2021, 08:00 AM. Reason: Added article that prompted the question

  • #2
    I think that this is less an issue for physicians than in the corporate world, for several reasons:

    1. There is a physician shortage in various specialties, especially in less desirable roles and locations. As a mid-50's radiologist, I am still being heavily recruited.

    2. Physicians hit their professional stride later in life due to the education and training requirements. A mid-40's to mid-50's surgeon is possibly at his or her peak of productivity, competency, and mastery. One of the most celebrated CT surgeons in our community was still active well into his 70's, doing high quality and high complexity work.

    3. Older physicians do not command a higher salary or compensation than younger ones. The RVU scale is blind to the age of the physician. In the corporate world, sometimes a mid-50's middle manager can be replaced with two developing managers in their 30's, and the company even saves money on the replacement.

    4. There is some element of the value of the experience of the graying physician, with older stereotypes like Marcus Welby and such. This may be fading.

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    • #3
      I’ve seen increasing concern regarding the ethics of someone continuing to practice despite having increasing incompetence as one gets older (shakiness and forgetfulness often cited). However, competent surgeons are sometimes old while incompetent surgeons are sometimes young. I don’t think this should be an age thing. Competencies exist across several dimensions. Sure, do some increase with age on the average? Yes. But some come with youthful exuberance and lack of discretion/wisdom. Standards applied equally would be the way to go in this regard, where if found to have competence issues one should have a program in place to help. Don’t improve? Reduction in privileges ensue.

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      • #4
        From a business perspective, I doubt competence is much of a factor. But I can think of a lot of other reasons it matters to the people in charge. First, younger physicians, especially those fresh out of training, are more susceptible to corporate molding, more likely to set down roots, and possibly more enticed by golden handcuffs. Older physicians may be more likely to push back. Second, older docs are more expensive in terms of benefits.

        Another issue that may come up, particularly in democratic groups, is whether older docs get certain perks once they reach a certain age according to the contract or by laws, which by extension funnels more work onto the remaining members. When that happens, the group sometimes is just begging for the doc to retire like a certain sitting Supreme Court Justice.

        However, I think it seldom really factors in hiring, at least in employed jobs, mainly because of the first reason Vagabond gave (beggars definitely can’t be choosers in my specialty). HR is probably mostly siloed from the financial offices anyway, and it just isn’t worth the lawsuit risk to blackball someone.
        “Work” is a four letter word for good reason.

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        • #5
          A doc's work history and references means a lot more than age. I know several older docs who are WAY more productive than most young docs coming out of fellowship. While everyone slows down with age the variation between individuals is far greater.

          I would be comfortable hiring a doc who has good references from another doc already in the group regardless of age. I've found physician references from dept directors, admin, and physicians not of the same specialty to be useless. We have hired a few wowsers in the past that were referred by a mix of the three. It's hard to describe how awful these docs were professionally and/or personally.

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          • #6
            i've never seen any personal evidence of it.

            it's pretty clear in EM that the hardest time to get a job (no great shock here) is right out of training.

            what i always tell residents is that after 2 years ideally there's a medical director who can get on the phone and tell another medical director that you are safe.

            EM is probably more tolerant than surgical/procedural fields of things like subtle loss in dexterity. by far the best EM docs i know as far as diagnostics go are later career. it's a good thing to have seen everything at least once and in some cases more than once.

            i can't tell any difference in speed/efficiency among age groups to be honest. the slowest, least efficient, worst team players i've met have all been under 40. i've worked with 60 year olds who can run circles around a new grad.

            i recognize that the logistics of hiring someone very later career change when there are call pools, patient base to establish etc, just not an issue for my field.

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            • #7
              I don't see it, especially 50's, that's still prime time. Work with a handful that were hired in their 60's. If anything I see the opposite, age discrimination against young attendings coming from patients mostly.

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              • #8
                I'm in corporate and I think this totally exists. I haven't personally 100% known but I've had several bosses who were older and we let go. I follow them on LinkedIn and many of them seem to have never recovered in the sense that I see their next job took a very long time to get, and it's usually in something that I perceive as a totally different area for much less pay. That may be a personal choice on their part because they are older so maybe they don't need the money anymore, but probably not based on what we know the average person does with their paycheck.

                I do strongly suspect one reason they were let go was their bosses perceived they were being paid too much, and every single time the person hired in their place comes in with much more junior qualifications and I assume they are being paid quite a bit less than the person who was let go. So I guess what I'm saying is it might not be age discrimination but is rather to get someone who can be paid less, and people in their 50s tend to be at the upper end of their lifetime salaries

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                • #9
                  Wasn't there an article a while ago about the best physicians are around 10 years out of training? Still close enough to training to be up to date while gaining experience. This seems about right in pathology. Some of these old guys have no idea what criteria are for anything. The ones that have kept up are really good though.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jhwkr542 View Post
                    Wasn't there an article a while ago about the best physicians are around 10 years out of training? Still close enough to training to be up to date while gaining experience. This seems about right in pathology. Some of these old guys have no idea what criteria are for anything. The ones that have kept up are really good though.
                    I'm only a year out, but that number seems spot on. I've been beating the dead horse of "don't call hyperplastic polyp in the right colon" since I started. Ha!

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                    • #11
                      I do know as a physician that if you are over 55, you are unlikely to be considered for desirable jobs.

                      PP groups and hospitals don't want to spend all that time and money recruiting you for you to retire / quit in 5-7 years. They want people in the 28-40 year age group, preferably on the younger side of it. If you are on the wrong side of 55, you are likely to get jobs in the boondocks, jobs that have so much drama that no one wants or just plain locums. No cushy nice job in the MCOL or HCOL for you.

                      The difference compared to non-physician jobs is that you will find some job, but likely in S. Dakota or upper Minnesota where boiling water turns to ice in an instant in winter.
                      Last edited by Kamban; 07-07-2021, 07:26 PM.

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                      • #12
                        All of these seem like great arguments for FI(RE). Get at it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SerrateAndDominate View Post

                          I'm only a year out, but that number seems spot on. I've been beating the dead horse of "don't call hyperplastic polyp in the right colon" since I started. Ha!
                          So sad. That literature is at least 10 years old now. Worst part is that these are the same morons that probably don't have to recertify because they're grandfathered in.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jhwkr542 View Post

                            So sad. That literature is at least 10 years old now. Worst part is that these are the same morons that probably don't have to recertify because they're grandfathered in.
                            Haha. I mean, some are not grandfathered in....

                            I think we can all hate on CME and the money grab it is, but I think if you're going to require it, then it needs to be done by everyone regardless of age

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                            • #15
                              There are many factors at play as far as physicians, age and competence.

                              Some of the older docs in our group are work, work, work and are therefore much more productive. Some of the younger docs are more conscious of maintaining what they feel is a healthier work/life balance, so they end up with more time off and lower patient encounters.

                              In medicine, the book knowledge often peaks much earlier in a medical career, but the wisdom from experience peaks much later. Ideally, it is nice to be cared for by a physician with both knowledge and wisdom.

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