How prepared are you to negotiate the best possible contract for your next position? Do you know what you can realistically ask for? If the salary offered seems too low, do other factors make the job a perfect fit?
In order to get the most beneficial contract with your next hospitalist position, you must have confidence in your negotiation skills. Here are some steps that may help.
1. Recognize Your Priorities
Before you set foot in your first interview with an organization, you must know your own mind—what exactly do you want to “win” in a contract negotiation?
“Your first step should be quiet reflection, where you figure out what you want and what [part] of that is non-negotiable,” advises Fred A. McCurdy, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAP, CPE, professor and regional chairman of the department of pediatrics, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at Amarillo. Most people focus on money when they anticipate negotiating employment, but there are other factors to consider, such as schedule (on-duty and on-call hours); opportunities for advancement, including research, project management, and teaching; and, of course, benefits, including insurance and retirement packages. Consider carefully which factors matter most to you, then rank them to organize your personal priorities.
Dr. McCurdy recommends the process he uses for all the negotiations he participates in as part of his job. “I think through the principles of each negotiation situation and write them out,” he says. “I pick out the non-negotiable items as well as the items I hope to achieve.”
2. Do Your Homework
It’s tough to negotiate your salary or your benefits when you don’t know the market. “Don’t walk in without knowing your facts,” warns Dr. McCurdy. “Do your homework to see what the market is and how payment systems work.”
Research the potential employer to find out what they’re paying other physicians and how they pay. “You can ask [the interviewers], ‘What are you currently paying your other hospitalists?’ ” says Dr. McCurdy. “You might get [them to tell you] a pay range.”
Ask questions in your interviews, and conduct independent research on the organization and on the market.
“You can obtain a lot of information on your own,” he explains. “The MGMA [Medical Group Management Association] and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) have salary scales available. Salaries are public information for people who work in public institutions like university hospitals.”
SHM also provides up-to-date salary information in its “Bi-Annual Survey on the State of the Hospital Medicine Movement,” available at www.hospitalmedicine.org.