Finding generational middle ground

Finding generational middle ground

What a brand-new, young associate might say to her Baby Boomer employer and vice-versa
May 01, 2009

I was born in 1967. Barely. Jan. 14, to be precise. Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964.

According to the U. S. Census Bureau, Gen-X'ers were born between 1969 and 1980. Gen-Y's were born between the mid-1970s and 2000.

This has left me chronologically challenged. I have no generational identity. While it leaves me feeling a bit unwanted, this "no man's land" has given me an interesting opportunity to evaluate both sides of the generations — to look both ways and place a foot on both sides.

I have been an associate needing time off to pursue outside interests and family life.

And I have been (actually am) the primary breadwinner for my family, placing a high premium on earned income.

In my unusual intergenerational status, I would send the following letters from one generation to the other:

Dear Dr. Baby Boomer:

I am very excited to work for you. Thank you for offering me the associate position.

I realize that we have not only a 25-year age difference between us, but with veterinary schools graduating over 80 percent women these years we also diverge on gender. I'm "xx" and you are "xy." I would like to share some thoughts on the characteristics that define me and my generation to help us get started on the right foot.

I am really well trained. I have the most modern and sophisticated veterinary education ever. However, I need guidance in the clinical side of practice.

Be a mentor. Provide me with frequent feedback and let me know how I can improve as your doctor. Provide oversight and help me with my surgeries and work-ups, especially right after I start in your practice. Guide me toward accurate diagnoses and provide a safety net should I make clinical mistakes. Nurture me along and keep the lines of communication open.

Listen to suggestions and ideas from me. You may not be doing everything to maximize client care. Upgrading to digital radiography would greatly enhance our diagnostic capabilities. Investing in a dental X-ray machine would allow us greater precision in surgical extractions and manipulations of diseased teeth. In-house lab machines will provide immediate answers to urgent medical problems.

I have great computer technical skills. Please make use of them. Let's upgrade your clinic. I am happy to help with a transition to a paperless practice. Study after study has shown how much money (and trees) we would save. Web design, client e-mail alerts, on-line bill paying and Internet ordering are all things with which I am familiar. Let's showcase our modern approach to veterinary medicine to all of our clients.

As a woman, I spend a few more minutes in the exam room with clients. They appreciate this, and I can build a strong client following. I truly care about the animals and show my compassion through warmth and empathy toward my patients and their owners. Patients are no longer cows in the field. They are now pets on our beds. Clients demand empathy, and personal touches go a long way in this new era of pet ownership.

If I decide to have children, don't write me off. I want to continue working for you and for my clients. What I will need is a more flexible schedule. This does not necessarily translate into shorter hours. It means different hours. Making this adjustment should not be too complicated. We are a global economy able to stay connected through an intricate worldwide Web. Creating flexible schedules for full-time working mothers is not out of our intellectual reach. Don't pretend it is.

Believe it or not, according to the Census Bureau, full-time working women are still doing 67 percent of the housework and 80 percent of all child-care duties.

If I have a family with children, I will most likely leave your clinic without working a lot of overtime. This is not so I can attend evening parties downtown. It will be to go home and assume my second full-time job as mother, housekeeper and caregiver. All of this unpaid work takes up the rest of my waking hours.

Thank you again for allowing me to work for you. I love this profession. I am enthusiastic, well-educated and can't wait to be the best associate I possibly can be for you.