Anatomy of a Complex Physician Contract Negotiation

I was recently asked an interesting question by one of my blog readers. (I’ve changed everything to keep the details private, but the important points will remain the same.) The edited question is this:

“I work for a practice that has not changed or increased their annual salary for the last 10 years. There is a bonus, but the structure is such that it represents no more than 10% of baseline and has not increased either. When I ask the boss, he tells me that ‘All practices are the same. No one raises the salary.’ I am concerned that with the loss of value due to inflation, my compensation is being reduced and will continue do so in the future.”

This is one complex negotiation! You have a relationship with your boss that is paramount. You are losing value. You are being offered a “standard policy” of a “regional norm” as a counterargument. And, if you can’t come up with a solution, you are left with the option of losing compensation value year after year. Certainly the sort of thing that leads to stress and physician burnout!

Your Three Critical Skill Sets

To be a truly successful physician you need three complementary skill sets. Obviously, you will need your clinical training and outstanding patient care skills. As a reader of White Coat Investor, you understand the need for financial knowledge. Finally, there are the “professional business skills” that lack an ideal formal name. They are often called communicative or “soft” skills. Other professions like business executives and attorneys focus heavily on these topics, but physicians rarely receive any training on this skill set. The list includes skills such as interviewing, public speaking, contracts, and conflict management. Of all the physician professional business skills, the most valuable is negotiation.

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Anatomy of a Complex Physician Contract Negotiation