There’s nothing quite as exciting as answering a phone call to hear the words, “You’re hired.” After hours of research and preparation, multiple interviews, and a healthy dose of daydreaming about your first day, you’ve made it across the finish line—except for one final hurdle: the negotiation process. Don’t overlook it. The negotiation process is a key determinant of success for a newly hired physician employee, and it doesn’t have to be stressful.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2022
Many people who don’t regularly engage in formal negotiations believe that the process must be adversarial, combative, and stressful. The main purpose of negotiations is not to create a winner and a loser, however, but to create a framework in which everyone involved is headed toward success.
The most important first step is to gather all the information you’ll need. To get you started, here’s a list of information and documents to have on hand in addition to your offer letter when you meet with management or human resources:
1. Public information about your employer (e.g., website, newspaper, word of mouth, court filings). Hopefully, you have gathered much of this during your pre-interview research.
2. All information relevant to this position (e.g., job description, employment contract, benefit information, liability insurance coverage). If the employer has some of this information and you don’t, ask for it. You cannot make a good decision without all the facts.
3. The contact information of the person authorized to conduct the negotiation.
4. A timeline for the negotiation process. Confirm this timeline with the contact you’ve identified.
5. Legal counsel. Issues can be lurking in unlikely places during a negotiation process. Competent legal counsel can help find them and craft creative solutions.
Finally, take a moment to gather your thoughts on what is important to you in terms of work benefits, both personally and professionally. This will help guide you through negotiations and ensure that your goals and values match those of your future employer.
There are many issues and particular contract phrases that may arise during negotiations with a potential employer. Some of the more common issues include the following:
“Other duties as assigned.” This phrase is ubiquitous in job descriptions and employment contracts today. Often, the “other duty” is a simple request that is not quite in line with what you do, but not a burden. In the medical field, however, this phrase can mean quite a bit more. Be sure to match this term up with your listed job duties and coverage requirements in the contract. Are there on-call obligations? Can you be told to move to a different shift or a different clinic location without notice? If you think there may be risks in your employment duties that you aren’t willing to take, you might ask legal counsel to negotiate a provision in which you would be able to renegotiate your compensation if such an event occurs.