Did you know that nearly 50% of physicians leave their first position in 3 years? Why is it that physician burn-out is an epidemic? How come the news if filled with stories of physicians being sued or jailed for poor behavior? The answer is clear- you may be read to care for patients, but you are not read properly trained in the skills you need to launch your career and to truly succeed.
Every Physician will need to interview, negotiate and understand their contracts, learn how to navigate the shark-infested waters of office politics, learn how to deal with conflict, and understand financial basics.
Starting your career and getting that first job requires a new set of skills. Although the concepts may seem foreign or downright frightening, the good news is that with some planning and training you’ll be on your way. Just don’t try to do it alone.
You need a team like Physician Advocates LLC on your side.
1. Do your market research.
“This is the most common mistake I see young doctors make”, says Robert A Felberg MD, a practicing Neurologist founder of Physician Advocates; a consulting form dedicated to helping early career physicians navigate their first or second job. You need to determine the compensation packages, and not just salary, for your specialty and region. As Dr. Felberg explains, “Without the knowledge of market value, you have no realistic negotiation goal and are for more likely to end up with an unfair compensation package. This problem compounds with every renegotiation and after 3-5 years in practice you will find yourself facing a stark choice- keep earning less than your colleagues or go through the hassle of finding a new position. This can be avoided if you get solid market research before you even start the bargaining process”During your tour, the chairperson asks you, “What’s your current salary?” Do you know how to respond response?
- During your Tour, the chairperson asks you, “What’s your current salary?” Do you know how to respond?
2. Learn how to negotiate
“The folks sitting across the table from you, the chairperson and the administrative representative, they have specialty training and experience in bargaining. You will likely have none. You are going into the most important event in your career without the proper skills”, remarks Felberg, He continues, “Fortunately, negotiation can be taught. And physicians, who are accustomed to dealing with others in high pressure situations, are quick learners.” A seminar that includes basics in bargaining and practice sessions is “mandatory”. “Importantly”, Felberg adds, “Don’t wait until the contract is drawn up before you start negotiating. Many physicians think that this is when you start bargaining. The opposite is true. Once the deal is on paper, you have almost no room to negotiate. So be certain to be ready to negotiate from the first interview.”
- After a hard won bargaining session, the administrator states, “This looks great. I just need to run this by the board.” What could she be doing that may reduce the value of your negotiation? How do you counter this?
3. Get your contract reviewed
“Nearly all contracts will be legal. What you need to look for is whether they are fair and they say what you believe that say.” states Felberg, “Most legal representation will review your contract to look for legal issues, but very few have the skill to review the contract and see where there are potential disadvantages. You need a specialist attorney who is willing to explain what the various parts of the contract state and how to fix any issues.”
- When you get the contract reviewed your attorney mentions offhand that there is no provision for “cure” but assures you that the contract is legal. Is this important?
4. Get trusted financial advice
“That first ‘big’ paycheck is a major life event. But, most physicians don’t know what to do with it. Most do something like blow it on a car they really can’t afford. What they really need to do is have a solid financial plan, with an expert they can trust helping them along the way,” says Felberg. Physicians simply do not have the time and expertise to handle the highly complex financial decisions that comes with the job. They have overwhelming debt burdens, difficult tax situations, high audit risks, and high earning expectations. They need to find a trusted financial adviser.
- While in residency, a financial adviser had a dinner presentation for you and seemed like a knowledgeable professional. And, best of all, he doesn’t charge any fees for his advice. How can you be certain he is acting in your best interests?
5. Seek additional revenue sources
“When you go into to medicine, you have a belief that you will be wealthy. Not ‘Lifestyle of the rich and famous’, but certainly well off. Very soon you learn that due to taxes, housing, debt, and retirement amongst other needs, your income is actually quite limited. You are really living a middle class lifestyle.” Felberg continues, “The answer is quite simple. You need to earn more from an additional revenue stream. Fortunately, there are many high quality opportunities for physicians if they have the contacts.”
- You really want to be able to build up a college fund, but with your debt load, the mortgage, and retirement savings, you can’t seem to get enough money set aside. Do you know the best way for physicians to earn more income while staying within the medical field?