How important is salary negotiation for physicians?
Ensuring that you get paid your worth is a crucial conversation to have with a new employer. Often, physicians either avoid or downplay their legitimate concerns about the salary for a new position because they fear that they may be perceived as being demanding. This is particularly true for female physicians. Gender inequity, prioritization of flexible schedules over higher pay, ability to control personal and family time, and deep-seated societal pressures force female physicians to settle for a lot less than their male counterparts. According to a study in 2019, only 18.6% of female residents believed that they were equipped to successfully negotiate their salaries.
Considering this reality, we would like to help you prepare by providing an overview of the best practices around salary negotiation, if you’re getting ready to inquire about a job opening.
Your salary is determined by your post-graduate year level and certain geographic factors during residency and fellowship. In this model, trainees accept their salaries without negotiation throughout the the three to six years of training. The remuneration is not merit-based, but decided by which year in that particular program they are in. Upon completion of training, salaries increase to a junior attending level and multiple variables are added to the equation.
Inexperienced attending must therefore stay updated on critical information such as:
The gap between the average income of a new graduate and an experienced professional will be high during the first few years of practice. Fix an income goal that you would like to achieve within the next five years or so. Divide the difference between an average salary figure of a new graduate and your target salary by five (or your target duration in years). This figure is a rough estimate of how much your salary ought to increase each year you achieve your target. This is just a calculation which may not be applicable to everyone's situation because salaries can vary greatly from one person's situation to another. However, knowing these figures helps you understand how far or near you are from your goals and maintain sustained momentum in your career as a physician.
Here are some online resources to help you arrive at your market value.
Understand Your Audience
First, identify your target audience.
Consider the gender, age and attitudes of your audience before you make the first move. Since women often run into more difficulties during salary negotiations than men, it's important to keep these aspects in mind and prepare accordingly for the best and worst response that you might receive.
Demonstrate value to the recruiting manager. Mention anything that you have been particularly praised for in your career such as patient reviews, accolades from colleagues, a better way of managing patients through EMR integration, and more. If you were recognized for your team's top performance during surveys, or if you have ever offered healthcare services at a fraction of cost next to none, share these achievements with the recruiter to convince them with evidence that you will be a valuable asset to their medical organization.
These tips for negotiating physician contract can help optimize compensation for your work and ensure that you start your career on the right note in a professional healthcare setting. Go the extra mile to deepen and refine your negotiation skills. Variations of the negotiation game can be played in different settings, depending on whether you're new or old to the industry as well as the geography of the opportunity.
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