Healthcare professionals are undeniably skilled at what they do; however, like most people, they are not always the best at knowing their market value when it comes to salary and contract negotiations. While it’s critical that there’s a mutual corporate culture and personality fit for a healthy and happy work environment, a competitive salary, bonus potential, amount of annual leave, pension (and other investment opportunities), and healthcare benefits all should factor heavily in contract negotiations. But what are some best practices for maximizing your salary potential when undertaking sometimes tense contract negotiations?

In a physician blog post, 5 key questions to ask yourself are called out:

  • What’s the going rate for a shift of service you provide?
  • What do others receive for call compensation?
  • Is call pay included in a daily, weekly, or yearly rate?
  • What is the most you can realistically hope to get?
  • What is the least you need to feel adequately compensated?

Of the 5 key questions to consider, perhaps the most important takeaway is researching your worth. The following are a few useful resources the blog post notes for achieving this goal:

  • PayScale: Provides anonymized information from other users regarding pay and benefits when you create a profile on their site.
  • Doximity: Has an interactive salary map populated with anonymous data from more than 18,000 physicians across the United States.
  • Job recruiters and industry representatives: These individuals can serve as regional sources of information and opportunities.

Knowing your market value is essential. Many physicians, especially Black and female physicians, may aim too low without even knowing it. For example, it has been reported that female physicians, on average, earn approximately $0.75 for every $1.00 made by a similarly skilled male counterpart. To ensure the compensation you’re being offered for any job is fair, it’s important to review the data on salaries for physicians in your geographic region who work within the same specialty.

Once you know your worth, the next step is to leverage that information in negotiations. A recent Medical Economics article provides a few useful tips for improving negotiations:

  1. Determine what is important in advance. Physicians often lose out on contract negotiations when they don’t consider their position holistically in terms of base, bonuses, and benefits (eg, vacation time, retirement funding, health insurance, family leave policies). Physicians should also consider other factors that may affect their job satisfaction, such as whether there are opportunities to focus on research and areas of medical interest and whether there is room for career advancement and what that path may look like.
  2. Target multiple employers: It is essential to target multiple hospitals, practices, or healthcare systems when job hunting, even if not all appear to be a great match. Targeting multiple entities increases the likelihood that you will receive multiple offers, enabling you to pick the opportunity that is best for you.
  3. Counter the offer(s) you receive: Consider leveraging your other offers to improve upon the compensation and benefits package being provided for the opportunity you wish to pursue. If you only have one offer, you can still negotiate, and this is where knowing how other similarly employed physicians are faring can be instrumental.

Salary and contract negotiations are never easy; however, armed with these strategies, you’re likely to greatly improve your bargaining position.