We hear it all the time… know your worth. When it comes to working in our physician roles, it can often feel like we're just another hamster on the wheel. But in that instance, what we fail to notice is how much control we actually have in our situations.
While I've written on maximizing our net time by working less, I also like to read what others have to say about it. This guest post is from one of the doctors behind Fair Pay Doctor and his point of view is on point. Enjoy!
Five years ago, I was working full-time in a partnership-track private practice that covered the ER at a local hospital. With another baby on the way, I knew expenses were going to increase, so I was trying to figure out how to make more money.
I ended taking on an additional shift each week at my regular rate, which took away time from my growing family. There had to be a better solution, I thought.
It took me a while, but fast forward to 2019, I found my better solution – know my worth and negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.
In fact, I found out I wasn't the only physician doing this.
I've learned quite a bit from them as well as the highest earners on FairPayDoctor.com. We’ve distilled those tips here into a few easy steps for you to follow. If you want to increase your hourly rate and accelerate your pace towards achieving your financial goals, then I think this will help.
#1: Research your current position
Calculate how much you are earning per hour.
This will allow you to easily compare your job vs. your colleagues’ jobs and any potential jobs. (If you’re having trouble figuring how much you earn, just complete a survey on FairPayDoctor.com. At the end, we give you your hourly rate.)
Check the searchable FPD database
Another great resource is MGMA. What percentile are you in?
Check with your group or your hospital to see what the minimum is you can work to still maintain your partnership or your healthcare/401k and other benefits.
If you are already getting insurance through your spouse, then so much the better!
#2: Research your options:
Have you considered locum tenens?
These temporary, independent contractor positions typically pay quite a bit more money than your standard full-time, employed positions. Often, they pay as much as 30-60% more.
The highest-paid physician we spoke to is a full-time locums doctor. He has three different gigs in his typical rotation. In fact, all of the doctors we spoke with do at least part-time locums.
Given the higher rates locums jobs typically offer, it makes little sense to pick up more shifts or hours at your permanent job as long as you’re still getting benefits and making progress towards partnership.
Check with to see what the going locums rates are in your area.
(Current average is just over $200/hr.) Keep in mind that locums will pay your malpractice with tail, lodging, and transportation.
With the tax deductions you can utilize on the 1099 income you’ll make through doing locums, you’ll come out way ahead.
Has the salary at your current position kept pace with the market?
It may be that you’re four years in and you’re still making the same amount you made when you signed on the dotted line.
For example, if you have a full-time job that pays $120 an hour and multiple other practices are offering $150 an hour for the same amount of work, then you have a couple of logical options: switch employers or take part-time gigs that are more lucrative.
Ask for what you want.
Once you’ve gotten a feel for the job market, now’s the time to shoot for the moon. Ask for what you want. Don’t set a low goal that you reach.
Instead, set a high goal, even if you don’t achieve it. Don’t just take what the recruiter gives you as set in stone. Think of the offered rate as a first step in your negotiations.
If you have no idea what to aim for, then research the market and shoot for 90th percentile or higher.
Ultimately, you should always achieve a rate at or higher than the average. In general, at a bare minimum, you should aim for a minimum of 5-10% more than your current hourly rate. The worst thing they will do is tell you no.
Stay firm on your demands.
If you’re not good at negotiating, think to yourself that time on the job is time away from what you love doing most: hobbies and spending quality time with your family. Do not settle until the negotiated rate is at a level that is worth your and your family’s time!
Don’t forget that if you are doing locums locally, you can ask for another 5-10% more than what most locums would get.
After all, the locums company will not need to pay for lodging and will have to pay very little for your transportation reimbursement compared to someone out of the area (they would pay you for mileage instead of splurging on a rental car for someone who isn’t local).
Ask for extra pay if they need you on short notice.
Generally speaking, you should be able to get $500-1000 extra if they need you for the next day’s shift.
Lots of people don’t want to work on holidays.
You should be paid at least an additional 50-100% of your regular pay.
#4: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket:
You know that adage about the stock market and investing? Diversify, diversify, diversify! The same is true about jobs.
The doctors we interviewed told us that, from their painful personal experiences, they’ve come to realize that having several part-time jobs is far better than one full-time job.
This arrangement should provide you with not only higher income but also increased job security as you can be a bit picky and work for a place that you either enjoy more or pays better (or both!).
#5: ABC — Always be seeking:
- Always be seeking another position that pays more or is less stressful.
- Always be seeking more shifts at your highest hourly rate gig.
- Always be seeking more money from the jobs that don’t pay as much or are more difficult than other positions.
In summary, you need to know your worth. Too many of us just take what we’re offered, thankful for a decently paying job. There’s no question that people take advantage of that mentality, so learn from others’ mistakes. Employers are always looking to improve their bottom line; you owe it to yourself to do the same. By following these simple steps, you, too, can maximize your earnings and your quality time away from patient care!