The first step in negotiating is deciding to negotiate at all, Dr. Gebhard says. You must also recognize that many employers initially offer a lower compensation package because they expect negotiation to occur.
“You should have the mindset that everything is negotiable,” she says. “You have things to offer them and they have things to offer you, and it’s usually somewhere in between where you land.”
To prepare, a hospitalist should at minimum know what the local expectations are in pay, Dr. Fisher says. You might want to consider hiring a physician coach to learn effective negotiating strategies, Dr. Gebhard adds. Role-playing negotiation situations with a more experienced hospitalist can help, Dr. Reich says, as can attending negotiation skills workshops offered by SHM, the American Medical Women’s Association, and the American College of Physician Executives.
“It’s a matter of training people to feel negotiating is not self-serving or asking for more than what you’re valued at,” Dr. Fisher says. “It’s instead placing a value that’s appropriate and feeling confident that you’re asking for something that others in your same position would be asking for.”
Compensation isn’t the only negotiating point. “How much you’re worth is how many resources they’re going to invest in you so you can do the best job possible,” Dr. Brodsky says. “If you have adequate resources, then it’s much easier to bring yourself into a flexible situation because you’re getting what you need fairly. You can make the job look the way you want it to look while giving your employer fair value.”
Because people expect women to be communally interested rather than self-interested, a female hospitalist might want to approach negotiating from the standpoint of the common good of her family or the company, Dr. Gault says. “These sorts of requests aren’t met with surprise or negative judgment as much,” she says.
Nonetheless, women must be prepared for defeat.
“I think women should negotiate more. Not so much because it will be a successful strategy, but because in order to support one another, women have to get used to doing it,” Dr. Gault says. “We have to be willing to take the risk so that our perceptions and our ideas about what women should or shouldn’t do gradually shift over time.”