According to the Medscape 2023 Physician Compensation Report, the average physician salary in the U.S. is $352,000 per year. Physicians in preventative medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine earn the least, with average salaries at around $250k. Plastic surgeons take the top spot on the list, earning an average of $619k per year.
Yet no matter what type of medicine you practice or where you currently fall on the payscale, every physician on the hunt for a new position has the same question:
What can I do to get a bigger salary offer?
From improving your CV to knowing how to negotiate, here’s how you can get better salary offers as a physician.
Improve Your CV and Cover Letter
A strong CV and an impactful cover letter are a must. Without them, you might not even be considered for an interview let alone a job offer.
When updating your CV and writing your cover letter, be sure to include all of the most relevant information for the job you’re interviewing for.
If you’ve had leadership responsibilities in your current role, include that information. If you’ve taken on administrative tasks in addition to clinical obligations, say so. If you’ve trained in cutting edge new procedures or have embraced new technological advancements in your field, make it known.
In comparison to what other candidates for the job have to offer, your experience and training might command a higher salary right off the bat.
Not sure what to say in your cover letter?
This article from Physicians Thrive details what to include, and what not to include, in your cover letter.
Do Your Research
The only way to know if you’re getting a good offer is to do your research beforehand.
Physician salaries vary significantly among specialties, as well as from region to region. Any time you seek a new position or intend to renew a contract with your existing employer, be sure to do your research so that you know what your fair market value is.
This is especially key if you’re planning to relocate to a new state or a different part of the country. Rural states and underserved areas that have a greater need for physicians typically pay higher salaries than large metro areas where there is little or no shortage of healthcare providers. If you’re willing to move to an underserved region, you can enjoy a higher salary and a lower cost of living at the same time.
Be sure to understand the various compensation models as well.
While you may be offered less in initial salary with a salary plus bonus/incentive compensation model, that model could net you far more than a higher straight salary payment structure without bonuses or incentive options.
Try to Get Multiple Offers
The more in demand you are, the higher a salary you can command.
Whether you’re searching for a new job or planning to renew a contract with your existing employer, it’s to your benefit to have more than one offer to consider. That way, you can tell employer A that while they are your first choice, employer B has offered X amount of dollars more.
If you are a perfect fit for the position, employer A just might increase your offer, either in terms of straight salary, a bigger signing bonus, or a better benefits package.
Having multiple offers makes negotiating a bit easier, but you can still negotiate for a bigger salary and a better contract without having to bring competing offers to the table.
Most employers expect that you will counter their initial offer, so don’t decline the opportunity to do so.
Once you sign your contract, it’s set in stone, so be prepared to present a counter offer before making your employment official. Depending on the job market and how in demand your specialty is, the employer may accept your offer without question, or at least meet you somewhere in the middle.
Keep in mind that your actual salary is just one part of your overall compensation package. While you might not be able to get a better salary offer, you may be able to negotiate for better benefits, more paid time off, or a bigger signing bonus.
Hire a Contract Review Lawyer
Many physicians find contract negotiations difficult. The good news is that you don’t have to go at it alone.
Every time you are presented with an employment contract you should hire a contract review lawyer to review it for you. A contract review lawyer will make sure that your contract is fair and just, and they may even be able to negotiate a bigger salary or better terms on your behalf.
Whether you’re a resident about to sign your first employment contract or a seasoned physician with decades of experience behind you, hiring a contract review lawyer is the best way to make sure you’re getting the salary and contract terms you deserve.
No matter where you work or what type of medicine you practice, you deserve a salary offer that’s commensurate with the demand for your skills, your region, and your level of experience.
So do your research to understand your market value. Perfect your CV and write an incredible cover letter. Hire a contract review lawyer and prepare yourself for salary negotiations.
If you approach the situation from a position of strength you just might receive an offer that’s bigger and better than you ever even expected!