As doctors, we deserve to be compensated for our hard work. We dedicate at least a decade of our lives to acquire the privilege to care for people and the rest of our careers doing so. Unfortunately many of us get taken advantage of despite putting in the hard work. Prior to taking our jobs, we try to educate ourselves by consulting with our predecessors, going to seminars, and having lawyers review our contracts. That is still no substitute to experience in the workforce, so most of us still make our career decisions based on limited (and sometimes inaccurate) information.
Female doctors have to work even harder, as medicine is still predominantly a male dominated profession. You have to work harder to get what you deserve, but it can be done. Fortunately the rules for getting compensated fairly as a doctor are similar to that of most other corporate jobs. The following is a step-by-step list to get that raise you deserve.
Know How Much You Are Worth
Your value to the practice or company is determined by what you can offer. As a doctor, that means that you must know the value of your medical knowledge to your boss. Are you the only person in the state who can deal with certain medical conditions? Are there a hundred more of you in the same city? Are you expendable? How much revenue ARE you bringing into the practice, and how much CAN you bring to the practice?
Before you begin your negotiations, you need data. You need to know approximately how much revenue each one of your consultations, procedures, or surgeries bring into the practice. You need to know the spread of insurance payors of your patients, and ideally the range of reimbursements you receive per carrier. You need to know what your collections rate for billed charges are. You need to know your practice expenses too (if they open the books to you). This includes all operational expenses of the department, like employee salaries, benefits, fixed costs…etc.
If you are employed by the hospital, you will obviously not know its operational expenses. Focus on what you bring to the table. That is your bargaining chip.
Obviously the tips above are contingent upon your effort in the practice as well. If you truly are not seeing many patients and bringing in money to the bosses, then your bargaining power diminishes substantially. However if you are actually very busy but stuck with non-revenue patients, then you still have negotiating power.
Know How Much Others Are Making
Salary negotiation is also dependent on the income of your peers both in your group and in the local vicinity. How many male and female doctors in your profession are there in town? You must have a baseline to start with. If your current salary is significantly lower than others within your group, you should have better negotiating power (if your boss wishes to treat you fairly).
Formulate Your Strategy And Be Assertive
This is most critical for female doctors. Women are traditionally more timid in male-dominated professions, and are expected to acquiesce. This stereotype and tradition transgresses through the entire workplace. When a male doctor asserts himself to the mid-levels, he is accepted to be in charge and headstrong. When a female doctor does the same, she is seen as a b*tch. The same requests by different genders are unfortunately interpreted differently.
You must be firm when you make your requests, and be logical as well. Administrators love data even if the decision to raise your salary is subjective. A sample argument that you can work from is as follows:
In the past year, I have seen a growth in patient visits of 25%. This has translated to 500 patient visits to date and 8000 rvu’s generated. My professional fees total $1.1 million, and I have also brought in $2 million in technical charges to the practice. To date, my total revenue and patient visits exceed that of all the senior partners in the group. I feel that I have built up the practice significantly, and have a steady referral stream from Dr. Outside, who previously was not referring to our practice. I believe that a $100k bonus for my effort for the past year is very reasonable. I hope to continue growing the practice in the future.
Reassess On A Regular Basis
If you don’t get exactly what you deserve, keep trying. You will never get more if you never ask. It doesn’t hurt to ask as long as you remain professional and provide evidence of your work. This applies not only to salary, but also with logistics of practicing medicine like call schedules and fair division of patient care.
It continues onward into partnership as well. When you start looking into practice real estate, buy-ins, and stock, you want to ask questions to make sure you are as informed as possible and you are getting what you want and deserve.
Obviously it takes effort to do all that I have mentioned, but nowhere as difficult as the path to become a doctor. You simply have to stay organized, state your case, and keep trying.
What strategies have you implemented to obtain a raise? Let us know below!