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How to Negotiate Compensation as A Physician

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

Understand How Salaries are Determined

The physician's compensation is indeed determined by both the employer and the physician. But many other factors influence the extent of physician compensation. Moreover, all these factors influence each other.

The following are factors that determine a physician salary:


One of the main factors that affect the salary physicians receive is the specialization or expertise possessed. This is what causes the salary of each physician to be different, determined by the specialization they have. Based on the research by Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2021: The Recovery Begins, among the highest-paid specialties are Plastic Surgery ($526k), Orthopedics Surgery (511k), Cardiology ($459k), Urology ($427k), Otolaryngology ($417k), Radiology ($413k), and several other specialties to Pediatrics (221k).

By knowing the specializations and sub-specialties you have, you already know the idea of the amount of compensation you can expect.


The location also affects the amount of salary received by physicians, the law of supply and demand influences this. Medscape publishes its research on top-earning states for physicians in the United States. States such as Alabama ($348k), Kentucky ($340k), Oklahoma ($338k), Indiana ($337k), and Missouri ($332k) are among the top 5 states for physicians in 2021.

Type of practice

The physicians' salary is also influenced by the type of practice they do.

There are generally three types of practice: hospitals and health care organizations tend to pay physicians based on Relative Value Units (RVUs); those who practice in private practices and group practices are paid based on the financial performance of the practice itself.

But all of that is also influenced by other aspects such as location, specialization, and experience.


Shakespeare once said, "Experience is a jewel, and it had need be so, for it is often purchased at an infinite rate." So, a fresh medical graduate can't get paid higher than a senior physician. You have to know your worth.

Research your worth and do the math

In the world of medical professionals, your worth is determined by your specialty, type of practice, practice location, and experience in the medical world. If you already know these things, you already get the idea of the amount of salary you will receive. Medscape released their research entitled Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2021: The Recovery Begins, in the results of this research, you can find out your worth. The research summarizes the highest-paying specialties, ideal states for physicians to practice, and more.

Do your research and get data that can support your argument in negotiating compensation as a physician.

Choose the highest salary range

You can find out the nominal range of your salary based on your specialization, practice location, and experience. After knowing the nominal salary range for your position, bid the highest number. The reason is that the employer will definitely lower the number you bid, therefore you must bid the highest number. That's part of negotiation art.

However, if the employer does not provide the most standard or even low numbers in your market, then you have to dare to refuse or at least renegotiate.

Not just salary, negotiate anything

Many things can support your performance at work as a physician, not just salary. You should consider negotiating other things that you think can improve your performance in a job, such as a new title, an educational stipend, office space, assistant, or other institutional/office facilities.

If you really don't succeed in increasing your salary, at least you get a bonus in a job like the things above.

Do Research, Ask, and Get What You Are Worth

In negotiating a salary, you are fighting for the rights you deserve. If you really believe that the competencies and skills you have can contribute to the medical institution or where you work, rest assured that your employer will give you the salary you expect.

The important thing you do is research what you deserve. You must be able to explain to your employer what you deserve and make sure you can support your argument with relevant and accurate data.

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