The Millennial Generation Understands the Fifty Shades of Gray, Do You?

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By Michael Jordan, MHA, CRA, RT(R)

October 2012–No, I am not talking about that book, but I got your attention, didn’t I? I am talking about the many differences between seeing the world in black and white and those who recognize the middle ground, the shades of gray. This is a topic that I am presenting to my leadership team this October as a mentoring opportunity to the less experienced leaders. So, what does this have to do with the Millennial generation?

The Millennial generation has grown up in a time where there is very little black and white. TV sets have never been in black and white for this generation. Many don’t even remember having to get up to change the dial on a TV to a different channel. Morals and values have seemingly gone into shades of gray where they used to be much more black and white. But I am not here to talk about TV, religion, or even politics. Let’s take this to our leadership lesson and how other generations can learn from the millennial experience on this one.

Because the Millennial generation has grown up with so many shades of gray it is easy for us to recognize that in this day and age there are very few absolutes. For some generations this is a very hard concept to grasp. You have heard of those people who are “set in their ways” and are not willing to change. Those are the ones that see the world in black and white, wrong and right. If these very definitive type of attitudes persist we can not be successful.

Healthcare is rapidly changing, as well as imaging services. From MPPR, to RBM, and ACOs, we have to constantly do more with less. This is where the gray comes in. We have to get out of our mindset that shifts run 7-3, 3-11, and 11-7. The paradigm has to change. We need more cross trained hybrid technologists, alternate shift scheduling, etc. Millennial staff and leaders are starting to think outside the box of just how to make it all work. They grew up in the grays, and this will be their success.

If we are going to succeed as an imaging industry we must embrace the gray areas and learn how to change to meet the demands of a new day in healthcare.

Michael Jordan, MHA, CRA, RT(R) is the imaging manager, radiology, at Carolinas Medical Center-Union in Monroe, NC. He can be reached at

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