No matter what profession you’re in, when it comes to talking about money, most of us freeze up. This is perfectly normal when you consider that part of our upbringing is spent being taught not to be greedy or put on airs.
Then suddenly we’re told to “know our worth” and walk away from a good job if they don’t want to shell out for the money we deserve.
There’s a fine line to walk between negotiating your salary and being demanding and irrational. Not every job has the cushion to give you higher pay, but there are other perks you can request instead.
If you’ve hit the cap of what your employer is able to pay you, that’s not the end of the negotiations. A lot of benefits are only available to the squeaky wheels who ask for them, so go ahead and make some noise!
These five options are regular perks to most jobs. Check with your employer before you sign on the dotted line to see how you can negotiate some, or all, of them into your next contract.
1. Bump Up That P.T.O.
Every good employer wants their staff to have a solid work/personal life balance. This is particularly true when the job is as high-pressure and stress as it is in the medical field.
As a physician, if you aren’t there, the patients aren’t seen and the insurances aren’t billed. However, savvy managers know you’re more likely to show up and not call in sick if you are healthy and happy.
Even if you can only negotiate an extra eight hours, that’s a workday off. Take it on a Friday or a Monday and enjoy your long-weekend holiday!
2. The Work Schedule
Doctors’ hours are notoriously flexible. The medical office or hospital where you work might be open a set time, but that does not mean you have to be there on the same schedule.
If they want to keep you on their payroll, and you can afford to be a little choosy, try to negotiate some better hours. You may have to work weekends, but a rotating shift is better than every weekend.
Your start/end hours can be moved around, too. For those early birds, offer to take the crack-of-dawn shift. If you’d rather sleep in, ask for at least a few days where you can go in an hour later and make up that time elsewhere.
You might be surprised how much pull you have with your own schedule if you just ask!
3. Boost Your On-Call Compensation
Does your medical facility have an option for an on-call physician? If so, before you agree to this schedule, check into the compensation plan.
The on-call pay scale might be a per-day stipend or an annual one. If it’s hourly, do you get paid wait time or only when you’re called in?
How much you’ll make while you’re on-call might or might not be worth putting your personal plans on hold. Don’t agree to this shift unless you’ve negotiated a rate that works for you.
4. Education Perks
As a doctor, you probably have hefty student loans, ongoing continuing education credits to pay for, and possible further studies on the horizon. Does your job have benefits that will help you with any of these?
Many medical facilities will cover their physicians’ continuing education courses as long as the class providers are on the approved list of organizations.
Some employers will pay towards future studies in your specialization or help you make student loan payments, too. You may have to agree to a contract for a certain time period.
5. Health and Wellness Coverage
If you’re an employee, you will likely receive health insurance. But what other perks are there beyond the basic deductible and copay coverage?
Some employers offer benefits that encourage a health staff, such as gym memberships, paid wellness checkups, and nutritional offerings for on-site meals.
If a family is in your future, ask about the parental benefits of maternity and paternity leave, too. Look into the laws of your state and be sure you’re getting at least the minimum time off, then negotiate for a bit more.
Physicians with a solid reputation have a lot more leeway with salary and benefit negotiations than they might know. Even if you’re newly graduated, if you come highly recommended, you can easily negotiate some perks.
Don’t blindly sign a contract without attempting to give yourself at least a few of these five benefits. You’ll be glad you did when you’re enjoying your work/life personal balance!