Why Physicians Need to Know their Worth
Without healthcare providers like you, our communities wouldn’t have access to vital services that help us to live longer and get the care we need, when we need it. After rigorous years of schooling that often includes a tremendous amount of student loan debt, you work tirelessly to provide for your patients, sacrificing your time and other commitments to offer the best care. With all you do, you deserve to earn a salary that reflects your hard work.
Perhaps surprisingly, many physicians are unaware of how much they should be making, and according to one survey, only 9% of doctors felt prepared to negotiate salary when starting a new job.
To grow and thrive in your practice and to earn a salary that reflects your skills, you need to be aware of the major factors that have an impact on your compensation, and how these factors can help you determine your worth.
It may seem obvious, but your level of experience has perhaps the greatest effect on your compensation. However, just because you’re a new grad, that doesn’t mean you need to accept the first salary offered. In fact, new graduates may be more familiar with the latest technologies and innovations in the medical field, so that gives you some extra negotiating power. However, experienced physicians have not only spent years in the field, they may also have existing patients that they could bring with them to their new place of work. Having an idea of how your experience could translate to a particular position will help you to be more confident when determining what you should be paid and communicating that worth to employers.
Your location doesn’t just mean an urban or rural area (although those definitely affect your salary as well) — it also means whether you work in a hospital or a private practice. While hospitals are often able to pay slightly more, there’s usually more room to adjust rates in a private practice. There are other considerations when deciding whether to work at a hospital or private practice, but when thinking about your salary, make sure to do your research so you have a realistic idea about what you can earn at each before you decide where you want to land.
Affordable Care Act and the Physician Shortage
The Affordable Care Act means that Americans now have more access to healthcare than ever. With more patients needing care, the demand for doctors has risen dramatically; however, the number of practicing physicians has only increased by 2% each year since 2010. According to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, by 2025 the US will be facing a shortage of 35,000-88,000 doctors. This incredible need for physicians means that you have room to negotiate your salary, or the freedom to find a great job elsewhere. While these factors may offer insight into why you’re paid the way you are, it’s important to do your own research to find out the average pay for your specialty, which will help determine your worth. If you need help, a good place to start is the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has information on salaries, job outlook, and more.
Remember, whether you’re just starting your career, or if you’re a seasoned physician, you deserve to be compensated fairly.
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