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How to Negotiate Your Physician Contract

Published on: Jun 27, 2023

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One of the most important parts of any physician job search comes right at the end — when it’s time to negotiate the contract. However, it’s the part that many physicians are the least comfortable with.


Once you receive an attractive offer, you may be tempted to just accept it, sign a contract, and get to work. This mistake can lead to lost compensation, unsatisfactory working conditions, and missed opportunity that may have you looking for a new job again in two to three years. On the other hand, a good negotiation and careful review of the contract can make all the difference! 

Here are a few tips from CompHealth’s guide to contract negotiation:

Prepare for the Negotiation

Before you sit down at the table with a potential employer, determine what’s most important to you. “You’re not going to get everything that you want,” says Dr. Koushik Shaw, a urologist who practices in Austin, Texas.  He recommends making a list of what you really need and what your dealmakers and dealbreakers are.

Ask the Right Questions

You’ll be a more effective negotiator if you’re well-informed before negotiations begin. “A lot of residents are somewhat afraid,” says Dr. Shaw. “They’ve been in the mentor/student role for a long time. Now they’re getting out of that resident mode and going out into the private world of medicine, they may be a little embarrassed to ask the right questions. It’s important to ask questions of your future employers.”

Learn How to Negotiate

Negotiating may take you out of your comfort zone but it’s well worth the effort. “As physicians and as young graduates, I think we feel awkward about negotiating our terms,” says Dr. John Thieszen, a hospitalist. “I felt very awkward asking for any more money but in the 30 seconds it took, the hospital agreed to $20,000 dollars as a sign-on bonus. That was the best 30 seconds of awkwardness I ever spent!”

Read the rest of CompHealth’s contract negotiation guide to learn how to negotiate, what to look for in a physician contract, and which mistakes to avoid so you can enjoy a successful relationship with your new employer.