Physician burnout is at an all-time high of 62.8%, with one in five physicians planning to quit their jobs over the next two years. This correlates with data that suggests health workers are facing a mental health crisis.
Among the challenges that medical students face in American colleges, a Medscape survey points out the culture of medical school as a major contributor to current hurdles. According to the survey, aspiring physicians must regularly endure sleep deprivation, long nights, and work after hours and on days off.
It [survey] indicates that two-thirds of residents work greater than 50 hours per week, with a large percentage of residents exceeding 70-80 hours per week. This culture is carried on into professional medical practice and, by most accounts, is not adequately compensated.
The realities of a stretched profession and sector have some professionals eyeing side opportunities to maximize their knowledge base in a world comfortable with online learning and social media mechanisms. Many of these professional onlookers are discovering that the creator economy and its estimated 200 million content contributors are carving out niche revenue opportunities.
The time to independently create digestible and revenue-generating content appears closer than previously thought. Adobe’s Future of Creativity study finds that 23% of professionals worldwide actively contribute to the global economy. In addition, results indicating nearly one in four people are creators imply previous constraints may be waning.
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Kyle Denhoff, HubSpot’s Director of New Media, opines that lowered entry costs have provided an accessible gateway for creators to activate their ideas. “The barriers to creating a media product have dropped significantly,” Denhoff said. “When we talk about creators, obviously there are folks that can produce something right from their phone and post it on social media — but we’re also talking to independent writers, podcasters, and YouTubers who are building digital media products.”
Like the healthcare sector’s challenges, education and teachers have experienced similar confounding variables impacting talent retention. Educators in K-12, especially over the last 15 years and post-Covid-19, are finding outside interest in their skill sets, offering a pivot to current work-life balance issues.
Many accounts point to a lack of ownership of respective work-life models and preparatory activities lacking in personalization. Behind the scenes, many educators left the profession within the first five years post-certification for jobs in the technology sector serving the very same classrooms these educators left.
The intersection of teachers and healthcare providers in the creator economy has established an opportunity to share knowledge with consumers and practitioners to generate revenue more broadly.
Many in the healthcare industry view their position as part interventionist and part educator. As a result, some are looking to K-12 and higher education models of online delivery to stir up new and balanced professional opportunities.
As a physician, Dr. Chester Zoda faced the challenges of medical school and residency. Today he runs Digital Doctor University, an education startup company that converts physicians and health experts into content creators. Zoda, during Covid-19, was working close to 100 hours per week, and he eventually started thinking about a life through medicine that could provide balance.
“This harsh reality pushed me to seek a solution and save myself from this madness,” says Zoda.
A 2022 CHG healthcare survey found that nearly 50% of healthcare providers either left the profession altogether for out-of-sector positions, retired, or changed jobs within the industry. Respondents cited a lack of work-life balance and decreased income as key factors impacting their decisions.
Online education is a multi-billion dollar industry and growing every day. The Creator Economy has sprouted up to reveal opportunities for first-time entrepreneurs eager to monetize their respective knowledge base.
“After I started building my business and sharing my medical knowledge online, I shared my approach with a small group of health professionals who found similar success,” says Zoda.
The train-the-trainer model evolved into what is now Zoda’s Digital Doctor University. “I am leading a new generation of health experts into a brighter future like author and Doctor of Optometry and graduate of the University of California, Berkley Pam Teriot.”
The statistics of healthcare providers, like Teriot, burning out from traditional service models are growing with each headline published across the country.
Zoda points to the tech sector’s impact on entertainment and commerce, noting the classic replacement artists of Amazon and Netflix replacing Walmart and Blockbuster, respectively. “The early adopters [in entertainment and commerce] are now the biggest companies in the world. The laggards (ex. Blockbuster) became bankrupt and lost everything because they were reticent to move their offerings online.”
In the creator economy, most assume that practitioners of content monetization are Gen-Z and Millennial populations centered on entertainment. However, Zoda has found that his healthcare practitioner-customers are diverse in background and current placement. “It has been surprising, but we have seen students come to us from all levels of medical practice, from resident doctors to graduates from NASA, Cambridge, and Harvard.”
A challenge for healthcare professionals remains the choice between home and family and an occupation often linked to working for a cause or purpose. The mission, for many, is to continue delivering positive health outcomes but instead through alternative business models.
Some professionals exchange job security for schedules they control through locum tenens (temporary healthcare positions) that often provide a substantially higher income for providers.
They may not have chosen the creator economy, but many choosing this path cite creation as the key to their decision. Trevor Cabrera, MD, in looking at what he deems his “medical mortgage,” found locums created opportunities to practice medicine as an entrepreneur might in the tech sector. “I’m lucky to love my day-to-day “job” and hardly feel as if I’m working, but I’m not exempt from physical and mental exhaustion. So, I am sure to schedule in extra days for enjoyment or exploration,” says Cabrera in CompHealth.
“In New Mexico, I’ve scheduled extra days off to see the desert and climb the mountains. In Maine, I worked in an extra week to drive up the coast and eat every lobster roll I could find. I’ve even managed to make time for visiting friends and family — things I only dreamed of during residency,” he adds.
The centralized nature of medical education and practice is seen by many as a significant problem for the industry. “The sector should be looking to decentralize and democratize health care and put the power firmly in the hands of the practitioners. That’s an opportunity we want to put in the hands of everyone in this industry,” says Zoda.
The mindset of healthcare content creators and the impact educational models have on professional practice are yet to field a substantial set of opportunities. Those healthcare professionals who hang a proverbial shingle are primed to be the initial explorers of the Creator Economy and the relative benefits of educating through this new and digital channel of review-generating opportunities.
Online education presents an alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar education mixed with a creator economy’s explosion that appears to be accelerating a new knowledge acquisition path for professionals across sectors.
Healthcare, as an industry, has adapted to meet patient needs in a digital world. It may be time to perk up and pay attention to providers who also see the merits of online mechanisms to achieve work-life balance and monetary success.
A world of creators solely focused on fashion trends and entertainment seems to be growing as traditional occupations and providers explore new opportunities. Time will tell if healthcare providers in health and wellness fields find a reason to proctor expertise through atypical means as Zoda has.
“Online education is a game changer, and the use cases for it across industries are massive,” says Zoda.
The creator community hopes to see you through a digital device in the near future. Practitioners as educators and content creators aim to capitalize on the longstanding challenges of an industry ripe with burnout. The creator economy will continue to amass more providers and revenue while focusing on creators and their niche communities.
The welcome mat has unfurled for the next generation of practitioners. The healthcare consumer market will likely define the health outcomes of updated practices by the field. And if healthcare content creators have a say, they’ll do so from a position of power over current work and life constraints.
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.