By FlexMedStaff

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Did you know that you could negotiate the purchase of a television (TV) at Best Buy? We assume that the price listed on the tag is their “final offer.” In reality, the price listed on the TV is only a starting point. If you speak with an in-store representative at Best Buy, you may find that the TV price can be negotiated. For example, if you needed two TVs, you could ask for a discount on the second one? What if you needed to buy a TV and a stand for it? Why not ask for a discount on the TV stand? Best Buy wants your business and knows you can go elsewhere, so it’s in their best interest to negotiate with you. We must learn from this. Everything is negotiable even when you think it’s not.

Negotiations are the art of direct communication between two parties to settle their differences and reach the desired outcome that benefits both parties. Actual negotiations are meant to take place between the actual two parties rather than a middleman. If you were to have a 3rd party, law firm, or recruiter negotiating for you, this might be referred to as mediation since someone is speaking on your behalf.

Since the dinosaurs left this planet, the act of negotiating has been a common way for human beings to interact. Much of what we learn about negotiating is done organically. From the time we are toddlers, our parents teach us about negotiating. Remember having to eat all your vegetables off your dinner plate before you could be excused from the table to play with your friends? Or, remember your parents bribing you with ice cream so that you would behave? These are all elements of negotiating we learned at an early age. As we age, our negotiating skills improve with experience and practice. Some even refine their negotiating skills by receiving formal training and reading content on the topic.   

This article reviews the things any medical professional can negotiate based on an initial offer from a medical facility.

Facility: “We are looking to contract with a physician as a W2 employee.”

This is negotiable. If you prefer to be a 1099 independent contractor rather than a W2 employee, then let them know. They may or may not be open to contracting with you as an independent contractor. Be wary that if you negotiate to work as a 1099 independent contractor, you may be responsible for obtaining your own malpractice insurance. 

Facility: “We can offer you $150/hour.”

This is negotiable. No one should ever accept the initial compensation offer. Always negotiate for more! Know what your time and value are worth. Before negotiating higher pay, educate yourself about fair compensation rates. Be prepared to provide an educated rationale for why you feel you deserve higher pay. Remember to negotiate for higher pay if you are a nocturnist or someone covering holidays.

Facility: “We are only looking for someone full-time.”

This is negotiable. Traditional staffing models are being disrupted by the current market. Let the facilities know what clinical arrangement or schedule you are looking for and see how they respond. Put the ball in their court! Let them know how much you are willing to work. For example, if you prefer to work 3-4 days per week or two weeks per month, then let them know. You never know when they might be open to working with your desired schedule.

Facility: “We do not pay or reimburse for travel.”

This is negotiable. Nowadays, facilities have to find physicians anywhere they can. If the job interests you, see if they would be willing to pay or reimburse you for travel.

Facility: “We do not pay or reimburse for food.”

This is negotiable. If you are looking for a food stipend or the facility to reimburse you for meals, then negotiate for it. It can be done!

Facility: “The Professional Service Agreement (PSA) cannot be edited.”

This is negotiable. Too often, we hear that the contract or PSA cannot be edited. Don’t feel pressured to sign something you are uncomfortable with. Do your prep work! Educate yourself on contracts. Be prepared with the wording and examples you would like inserted or replaced to assist in editing a PSA. If the facility is unwilling to edit the PSA, consider walking away from the negotiations. 

Facility: “We are not looking for someone in your specialty.”

This is negotiable. Even though a facility may not be actively searching for someone in your specialty, you never know when that might change. If you provide them with your information and what you are looking for, they may be able to bring you on board in the future. Please recognize that your desire to work with them should be communicated to higher-level administrators, not just the in-house recruiters.

Facility: “We do not pay or reimburse for malpractice insurance.”

This is negotiable. If the facility requires you to get your own malpractice insurance, ask them to pay or reimbursement for it. It is very reasonable for any facility to reimburse for malpractice insurance.

Facility: “We do not provide benefits for part-time employees.”

This is negotiable. If you agree to work as a W2 employee, it’s worth considering what it will take for the facility to provide benefits (i.e., health insurance, retirement accounts, etc.). Ask how many hours or shifts you must work in a month to receive benefits.

Facility: “We will NOT edit our non-compete clause.”

This is negotiable. It would be preferable if we did not have to worry about non-compete clauses in our contracts, but sadly we do. Ensure that the non-compete clause is reasonable and fair to you. Non-compete clauses that include an excessive distance and multiple facilities should be avoided.

Final Thoughts:

Like the TV’s price listed at Best Buy, a facility’s initial offer to a physician is only the starting point. It’s worth knowing that “everything is negotiable.” Take the time to educate yourself about what you are looking for and how you can get there. Becoming an expert negotiator takes time, practice, and knowledge. Over time, your confidence grows, and you get better at negotiating what you are looking for. Hopefully, this article gave you some things to consider when negotiating a contract directly with a facility. Lastly, not all negotiations go perfectly. Always be willing to walk away from negotiations if both sides cannot agree to reasonable terms.

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