How Physicians Can Successfully Negotiate Salary: Top 3 Tips

How Physicians Can Successfully Negotiate Salary

According to a recent study, 49% of doctors and 54% of primary care physicians believe they are not justly compensated for their medical duties. The cost of spending 10-14 years in medical school and residency adds justification to the fact that physicians deserve a higher pay scale.

However, negotiating a salary can be difficult, especially for individuals who are not familiar with their market value. To prepare for this task, follow the advice below. With these tips, negotiate and attain a salary according to your worth and needs.

Tip 1: Find Your Market Value

Before negotiating, you should know the current market value of your job position. You can compare this information with your current skillset and experience. You can then determine the amount of salary you can request.

When researching the current salary bracket of physicians, make sure to focus on the points mentioned below. They will ultimately teach you how to negotiate physician salary accordingly.


Some medical sectors receive a higher salary than others. For example, orthopedics are the highest-paid physicians, earning an annual income of $551K. Meanwhile, public health and preventive medicine is the lowest-paying medical specialty, with annual compensation of $243,000.


Physician’s pay is also dependent on their practice area. Therefore, the state or city you practice in will determine your final package. For example, physicians working in rural regions make 5% to 10% more than the ones working in urban cities.


More medical experience equals a better salary. If you are fresh out of residency, your annual earnings will be less than more experienced physicians. That is why your expectations should be set in accordance with the amount of time you have spent on duty.

Hospital Group Type

Your basic salary depends on whether you have applied to a single-specialty group or multispecialty group hospital. Single specialty hospitals are more financially stable because the majority of the patients are physician referrals and have health insurance.

Therefore, these hospitals have a bigger budget and offer a better salary package. In addition, you will have higher learning opportunities to improve your skills.

Tip 2: Negotiate Beyond the Basic Salary

Negotiate Beyond the Basic Salary

When you’re just starting out, it is possible that the amount offered is less than your salary expectations. This is because some hospitals or medical practices don’t have a high salary budget but can offer additional benefits.

In this situation, you can negotiate the other terms of your contract and add incentives.  These are some of the supplementary benefits you should negotiate for:

Paid Vacation

As a physician, you need to go on a relaxing vacation to avoid burnout. On average, physicians in the USA take 3 to 4 weeks of vacation yearly. During negotiation, you can ask your employer to provide an extra week of paid time off if they are not meeting your offered salary.

Relocation Expenses

If you have to relocate for the job, ask your employer to cover the relocation expenses. Most healthcare organizations offer a relocation allowance. However, if the practice you are interviewing at is not one of them, negotiate to have this clause in your employment contract.

Health Insurance

You need to ensure that your health is not neglected while you are prioritizing your patient’s health. Therefore, ask your employer to provide a good health insurance plan that helps you cover the medical bills.

Student Loan Repayment

An average physician pays $365,000 to $440,000 as medical school debt. Paying the entire amount can become difficult, especially in the current economy. A student loan repayment program will help you repay the student loans. So, make sure to negotiate for this incentive.

Tip 3: Be Patient

During salary negotiation, you need to be very patient because the discussion of the terms is a back-and-forth process. Your employer will give you an offer, and you can present a counteroffer in return for increasing their offerings. You can also ask at the beginning interview if they have a flexible budget for salaries.

Instead of feeling discomfort, confidently approach this topic. This will help you acquire the basic salary according to your expertise level. Once you have asked the initial questions and forwarded your expectation, stay resilient and steadfast in getting your point across

However, if you still don’t receive your expected package and really want to work with a specific practice, evaluate the offered salary on these points:

  • Is it significantly lower than the current market value?
  • Would the company give you a raise in the near future?
  • How much workload will you be expected to handle?

If you can get better offers from other practices, it is better to cut losses. If you settle for a lower salary, it will negatively impact your financial situation and prevent you from comfortably completing your commitments. However, if your employer provides written confirmation to increase your salary after a specific period and the workload is less, it is best to accept the offer.

That said, it is imperative to get the increment clause in writing before signing the contract. This way, you can ensure that your request is not neglected after completing your probation period. You must also confirm the amount of raise you will receive in the gross salary after the probation. Make sure all parties agree to this number, so you don’t have to start the negotiations after the probationary period.

Wrapping Up

Most physicians do not receive the salary compensation that is their due share. As a result, you need to be vigilant during the negotiations. To raise valid points and get your expected salary, make sure to research the market value of your position according to your location, experience, and specialty. Your final salary also depends on the hospital you are applying to, as single specialty hospitals have a higher salary budget.

During negotiations, you should also focus on additional benefits if the gross salary cannot be increased at the moment. You can even ask them to give you a raise after probation or a specific time period. This way, you can get a salary that fits your expertise and specialty.


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