Can You Negotiate a Physician Salary?

You have invested substantial time and energy in your education and training as a physician. Now, you may wonder, can you negotiate your salary as a physician when you are being offered a new position? Salary negotiation is a common and expected part of the job search process. It is essential to advocate for yourself and your financial needs, although it can be intimidating to discuss money.

In this blog, we will examine the factors influencing your ability to negotiate a salary as a physician and provide you with practical negotiation tips and strategies. Whether you are a recent graduate just beginning your career or an experienced physician seeking a new position, these tips will assist you in navigating the process and obtaining the compensation you deserve.

Salary Negotiation for Physicians

When negotiating a physician’s salary, several considerations may be crucial.

  • Market value: Knowing how much other physicians in your specialty and region earn is essential. This knowledge will help you determine the value of your skills and experience on the market. You can check sources like the Medscape Physician Compensation Report for this information.
  • Benefits: Consider the employer’s benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, professional development opportunities, and salary. These benefits can have a significant impact on your total compensation.
  • Future opportunities: Consider the organization’s promotion and career development opportunities. In the future, will you have options to assume additional responsibilities or advance to leadership positions?
  • Work-life balance: Think about your desired work-life balance and whether the job and the organization fit your personal and professional goals.
  • Location: The cost of living in various regions can significantly impact salary expectations. Consider the cost of housing, transportation, and other expenses in your future employment. Websites like Numbeo can provide valuable insights into living costs.
  • Requirements and concerns: Consider your own financial needs and priorities. What is most important to you regarding compensation and benefits? Are you willing to negotiate a higher salary or value other benefits more?

Before engaging in salary negotiations, conducting research and having a firm grasp of your priorities and needs is advisable. This information will assist you in making informed decisions and effective negotiating. So, can you negotiate a physician’s salary? Of course!


Negotiate a Physician Contract

physician employment contract is a legally binding agreement outlining the terms and conditions of employment between a physician and an employer. The contract may specify the following: 

  • the physician’s job duties;
  • compensation;
  • benefits;
  • employment conditions;
  • provisions concerning confidentiality;
  • Non-compete clauses; and
  • dispute resolution.

Physician employment contracts can vary greatly depending on the employer and the specific position. A physician employment contract for a hospital may differ from one for private practice. 

Before signing, physicians must thoroughly review employment contracts and understand their rights and responsibilities. To ensure that the terms of the agreement are fair and reasonable, consult with an attorney or a professional organization, such as the American Medical Association.

Here are some tips for negotiating an employment contract with a physician:

  1. Conducting research is essential in understanding the market value of your skills and experience and the benefits and compensation offered by other employers in your field and location. This will enable you to negotiate from a strong position.
  2. Consider your financial needs and priorities, as well as any non-monetary factors, such as location, work-life balance, and advancement opportunities, that are important to you.
  3. Examine the terms of the contract, including any provisions regarding compensation, benefits, and employment duration. Ensure you comprehend the specifics and ask for clarification if necessary.
  4. Communicate your concerns and priorities clearly and professionally, and be prepared to defend your requests. Having specific examples or data to support your position could be helpful.
  5. The negotiation process is a two-way conversation, so the parties should be willing to find a solution that benefits both parties.
  6. Consult an attorney or professional association if you are still determining the terms of the contract or if you have concerns.

By adhering to these guidelines and being well-prepared, you can increase your chances of securing a fair and reasonable employment contract that meets your needs and priorities.


Can You Negotiate Residency Salary?

Typically, the sponsoring institution sets the residency salaries, which are non-negotiable. The salary is intended to cover living expenses during the residency period. Residency salaries vary by specialty and sponsoring institution, but they are typically less than fully trained physicians.

However, some variables may affect a resident’s salary, including the duration of the training program and the location of the training institution. Some residency programs may provide additional benefits, such as housing and travel stipends, which can affect the total compensation package.

During their training period, residents need to understand the terms of their employment and budget accordingly. If you have questions about your salary or benefits, please speak with your program director or the institution’s human resources department sponsoring you. A resident may want to look into moonlighting or other ways of making money during residency.

Physician Compensation Models 2023

Various compensation models for physicians are utilized in the healthcare industry, including:

  • Fee-for-service: Physicians are compensated for every service or procedure in this model. This model may encourage physicians to see more patients and order more tests and procedures, which may only sometimes be in the patient’s best interest.
  • Salary: In this model, physicians receive a fixed compensation regardless of the number of patients they see or the number of services they perform. This model can provide physicians with a stable income, but it may not account for patient complexity or the time required to provide care.
  • Capitation: In this model, physicians receive a flat fee for every patient they see, regardless of the number or type of services rendered. Rather than focusing on the service volume, this model can incentivize physicians to provide preventive care and manage patients’ health proactively.
  • Quality-Based: In this model, physicians are compensated based on the quality of care they deliver, as measured by specific metrics or benchmarks. This model can incentivize physicians to provide high-quality care; however, it may necessitate substantial data tracking and analysis investment.
  • Hybrid: Incorporating elements of fee-for-service, salary, and quality-based payments, many physician compensation models are hybrids of the models mentioned above.

The most popular model can vary based on the healthcare setting, the organization’s and the patient’s specific requirements, and patient preferences. Physicians must comprehend the terms of their compensation and consider how the model may affect their practice and the care they provide to their patients.

Negotiating Salary in Academic Medicine

In academic medicine, physician salaries may be determined by various factors, including: 

  • the physician’s education;
  • training, and experience; 
  • the position’s demands; 
  • the institution’s location; and
  • the department’s and division’s resources. 

In academic medicine, it may be possible to negotiate certain aspects of a salary, but the overall amount may be more fixed than in other settings.

However, a physician may be able to negotiate the following factors in an academic medicine setting:

  • Title: Consider the position’s title and whether or not it accurately reflects your qualifications and duties. If the role merits it, it may be possible to negotiate a higher title and corresponding salary.
  • Start Date: Consider the position’s start date and whether it coincides with your availability. It may be possible to negotiate a later start date.
  • Funding for research: If the position includes a research component, consider whether the available funding is sufficient to support your research objectives. If necessary, negotiate for additional financing.
  • Work-life balance: Consider your desired work-life balance and whether the job and organization align with your personal and professional objectives.

In academic medicine, you can negotiate certain aspects of your compensation if you are well-prepared and aware of your preferences. 

Also, before engaging in salary negotiations, it is prudent to conduct research and have a solid grasp of your needs and priorities.

MGMA Physician Compensation

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) represents Medical Practice Administrators and Healthcare Executives. It was established in 1926 and maintained its headquarters in Englewood, Colorado. 

MGMA is committed to providing medical practice leaders and professionals with resources, advocacy, and education to help them advance their careers and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their practices. The organization provides its members with various resources, such as educational events and webinars, publications, research, and networking opportunities, to keep them abreast of the most recent trends and best practices in the medical field.

Through its annual Physician Compensation and Production Survey, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) releases data on physician compensation. This survey is one of the most comprehensive and well-known data sources on physician compensation in the United States. It is based on data collected from medical group practices across the nation and encompasses various specialties and practice settings.

In the survey, medical group practices provide information on their physicians’ compensation and output and data on their practices’ characteristics, such as the number of physicians, patient volume, and location. 

The MGMA then conducts an in-depth analysis of the collected data and publishes a comprehensive report on median and mean compensation levels for various specialties and practice settings. The report also contains information on additional variables that may impact physician compensation, such as productivity, patient mix, and overhead expenses.

Members of the MGMA have access to the Physician Compensation and Production Survey, which is typically published in the fall of each year. On the MGMA’s website, non-members can purchase a copy of the report or access selected data points.


MGMA Survey Cost

Depending on the type of access you purchase, the cost of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Physician Compensation and Production Survey varies. The full survey report is available to MGMA members as part of their membership benefits. Non-members may purchase report access for a fee. The average cost of the physician compensation models 2022 report for non-members is approximately $600.

Non-members can purchase access to selected data points from the survey via the MGMA’s website and the full report. The price for this type of access varies based on the specific data points you’re interested in and the length of your subscription. You can contact the MGMA directly for pricing and availability information on data points.

The MGMA Physician Compensation and Production Survey is only one of many sources of information on physician compensation. Some other organizations and resources publish data on physician compensation with varying costs. Comparing the cost and coverage of various sources may be worthwhile to determine which meets your needs and budget the best.

What Are Other Sources of Physician Compensation Statistics?

Various organizations and resources offer information on physician compensation in the United States. Some examples include:

  • The American Medical Association (AMA) publishes physician compensation data through its annual Physician Practice Benchmark Survey. The AMA survey includes information on median and means compensation levels and data on factors that may affect compensation, such as productivity, patient mix, and overhead expenses.
  • Through its annual Physician Compensation and Production Survey, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) also publishes data on physician compensation. This survey is one of the nation’s most comprehensive and widely-recognized sources of physician compensation data.
  • Through its annual Resident Salary and Debt Report, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) publishes data on the compensation of residents and fellow physicians. This report contains data on the median and mean compensation levels for various specialties and information on factors such as student debt and job satisfaction.
  • Through its Occupational Employment Statistics Program, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes data on the employment and wages of physicians and surgeons in the United States. The BLS’s data includes median and mean wage information for various specialties and geographic locations.
  • Private companies such as Doximity and Merritt Hawkins publish physician compensation data. It is important to note that these sources may provide more detailed and specialized data on physician compensation. Still, they may base their data on a smaller sample size or less comprehensive than those from larger organizations.


About Us:

We are a dedicated team of legal professionals specializing in physician contracts at Physician Contract Attorney. With years of experience in the healthcare industry, we deeply understand the challenges faced by physicians when navigating complex employment contracts. Our mission is to ensure that our clients are protected and well-represented. We focus on providing sound legal advice tailored to your unique needs, empowering you to negotiate your contract with confidence. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please reach out to us today.

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