How to Negotiate Physician Salary

physician participating in salary negotiation with hiring manager

Medical employers expect you to negotiate after you’ve been given an offer so don’t waste an opportunity to set yourself up for better future financial footing. By now, you’ve hopefully researched the common physician salary ranges in your desired location for your medical specialty, so you have a great benchmark to begin your salary negotiations. Moving forward, keep these points in mind as you move through the physician salary negotiation process on the way to signing the physician employment contract:

  1. Do not be the first to bring up salary. Allow the medical employer to share the physician job salary range and you can negotiate if an offer is made.
  2. When you enter salary discussions, ask about the greater elements of their compensation program. Beyond monetary compensation, ensure you understand the available benefits and other amenities the practice is offering that contribute to the overall value of the offer.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask any clarifying questions after the employer discloses the details. You want to have a full and complete understanding of the job offer including salary, productivity, partnership, other benefits, and ancillary income opportunities. These may not all be part of the deal, but you certainly want to know what is and what isn’t available.
  4. Whatever offers are extended, maintain professionalism. If you hear something that makes your heart sink or that makes you want to jump for joy, keep your composure- you’re still gathering information at this point in the process.

    Furthermore, do not make your potential employer wait too long for a response. Sometimes an offer comes with a time limit, but often they will not. Though you may want plenty of time to consider their proposal, keep the lines of communication open and respond within a couple of weeks.

  5. Do not be afraid to present a counter offer. Medical employers fully expect for salary negotiations to take place when hiring physicians. Ask questions such as, “is there some flexibility in terms of the base salary? It would be much easier for me to move forward if the base salary in the contract was increased to $XXX,XXX.” This is especially crucial as more female physicians enter the workforce and seek equitable compensation to their male colleagues.
  6. Remain flexible throughout the process. Be sure to evaluate the entire package not just the starting income guarantee. It is often surprising which opportunities are the better long-term option once the full compensation and benefits package is explained.
  7. Know when to accept or move on. If the medical employer has met your base salary expectations or if they have instead provided other incentives to account for the gap, you should likely accept the offer. Alternatively, if the medical employer is not willing to offer you a package that is around market value or that doesn’t meet your needs, it might be time to find another practice that will.

    Either way, ensure you leave the conversation on a positive note and thank them for their time and efforts. You never know if you might encounter any of these individuals in the future.

  8. If you’re ready to accept the offer, ask politely for a written contract if the person you’re on the phone with doesn’t bring it up. Ex: “Thank you very much. I look forward to receiving the contract and speaking with you again soon.” This will help keep the process moving forward to a resolution.
  9. Consider engaging experts such as physician employment contract lawyers and physician recruiters who are accustomed to navigating the physician salary negotiation process and who can lend customized advice that will lead you to the best possible outcome.
  10. Remember: until you have a written contract offer, you have no decision to make. Do not sign anything until both parties have reached a mutual agreement.

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