Salary Negotiations for Physicians


It is tough negotiating a salary, and it’s not something that could really be described as a lot of fun. Perhaps then it’s important to affirm that if you’ve made it to this point, then you have already come a considerable distance on your path to becoming a physician. You will have tackled med school, chosen a specialty and completed the requisite training, undergone training for that specialty, trawled the health jobs boards, found a recruiter and a potential employer that meets your standards, submitted an application, and aced the interview. That’s impressive! But now it is time to argue about how much you are to be paid.

Salary negotiation shares much in common with negotiation in general. For example, you need to know when to give and when to take, when to reveal your hand and hold the cards close to your chest and, ultimately, when to accept and when to decline. What you should never forget is that you have made it this far and the employer is keen to get you on board.

The Job Seekers Market

The U.S. healthcare industry is currently going through – and has for some time – a job seekers’ market. What this means is that there is a relative dearth of talent and a surplus of vacancies in healthcare institutions. Health Jobs Nationwide, a medical jobs recruitment service, advise that this state of affairs while bad for healthcare in general, is good news for potential recruits and their chances of securing a job – and a good salary. It’s all about knowing your own worth.

That said, there can be downsides to this as well. This is when healthcare institutions relax standards in order to scoop up recruits. While this theoretically makes it easier for you to get in, it leads to a bad working environment, a high turnover of staff, and much in the way of job dissatisfaction.

How to Negotiate Your Salary

So, assuming that your potential new employer is a good one and that you are fully aware of what you are worth to them, salary negotiation becomes a matter of knowing when to push and when to relent. To explain this best, it might be a good idea to look at some common reasons for relenting when you want more and debunk them. Here follows some reasons why people often relent in the face of lower salary offers, as well as the reasons why you never should.

It Could Make Things Tense at the Start

You don’t want to make enemies before your first day on the job, and you might think that pushing for a higher salary will cause this even if you get it. This is nonsense. Employers negotiate salaries all the time. They know how to do it, they expect it, and they are certainly not precious about potential employees wanting more. You might encounter resistance in the interview room, but that’s where it will stay.

They Might Retract the Offer

No, this will not happen. Employers have invested time and money in your interview process, so they’re not going to throw that away at a reasonable counter offer. They worst that can happen is they will not accept your request for more.

I’ll Get a Raise Later

You might do, but the timelines and rules for raises will be subject to strict hospital policy. It will not be on your schedule. Furthermore, you’ll be in a weaker position compared to the interview room, and there’s no guarantee of success.

Salary negotiation is part of being a physician. And to say it once again, the trick is to know how much you are worth – and to push for it.