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5 Tips for negotiating the best physician employment contract

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There are simple tools that can help us achieve the best employment contract.

I probably made every mistake in the book when I negotiated my first employment contract as a newly minted Family physician. For starters, instead of even thinking to negotiate my starting salary, I remember simply saying, ‘Thank you.’ The medical director blinked at me in confusion. ‘Uh, I think we can go up a little on that,’ he said, immediately adding another 20% to the initial number.

To learn the best ways to negotiate a fair employment contract, I spoke to Dennis Hursh, a physician employment attorney who literally wrote the book on the subject. He told me that my mistake is not uncommon for new physician graduates. “You have to be super competitive to become a physician, and when you get your first job offer, you think, ‘Oh I want to make sure I get this.’” But Hursh says that physicians must learn to shift their mindset from trainee to professional. “You’re not competing anymore. The race is over—they want you.” While adjusting to this new mindset can be a challenge, Hursh says that there are simple tools that can help us achieve the best employment contract.

Rebekah Bernard, MD is a family physician in Fort Myers, Florida and the author of four books, most recently Imposter Doctors: Patients at Risk. You can watch her entire interview with attorney Dennis Hursh on her YouTube channel, Patients at Risk.

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