Salary negotiations: Advice for docs who want a pay increase

Many physicians unsatisfied with their salary or hours will pursue a job at another practice. But Troy Fowler, vice president of recruiting at Merritt Hawkins, recommends that those physicians first ask their current employer for a conversation about their compensation package.

The best time to bring up the compensation topic is about two or three months before the end of a physician’s contract, Fowler tells Medscape.

Asking for a salary review is the best way for a doctor make a compelling argument for a better compensation package--and it helps the employer stave off a potential retention problem, he says.

And doctors can’t be afraid to make a solid business case for a better salary, Dennis Hursh, a Middletown, Pennsylvania, attorney and author of “The Final Hurdle: A Physician’s Guide to Negotiating a Fair Employment Agreement,” tells Medscape.

The first place for a physician to start is to know their value to the organization, he says. One way to illustrate their value is to talk about their contributions to quality metrics and patient satisfaction. Doctors who have stepped into leadership roles or serve on committees are also positioning themselves for more fruitful conversations about salary, he says.

Still, physicians have to realize that there’s a broader market for their skills, which is why they need to know what other specialists in their field are being paid. Hursh’s recommendation for doctors? “Keep your eye on the benchmarks,” he told Medscape.

For some women doctors, asking for a salary increase may be difficult. The best advice for women physicians is to “psych” themselves up to ask for what they want, Linda Babcock, an economics professor at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, told the publication.

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