September 16, 2015
As a primary-care resident, you’ve worked hard for chicken feed. Now you’re expecting groups, hospitals, and HMOs to make you six-figure offers-for handling a much smaller workload. But before you savor the sweet task of choosing among those offers, you need to know the difference between market-based and productivity-based compensation. Otherwise, you risk joining the legions of newly employed physicians who, after a year or two, find themselves suffering from a malady not taught in medical school: incredible-shrinking-salary disease.
Market-based compensation is the competitive salary and perks that an employer must offer to get you to bite. When you’re looking at jobs paying $130,000 to $150,000, it’s easy to assume you’ll still be receiving at least that much two or three years down the line. That may be a costly mistake.
A high starting salary will keep flowing in for a year or two at most. Then, many employers will switch to productivity-based compensation. To keep pulling down $130,000 to $150,000 a year, you must earn it.
Of course, the actual number of patients you’ll be expected to see will vary, depending on the job. Even so, count on at least 20 to 25 patients a day if you’re an FP or pediatrician; 15 to 20 if you’re an internist. But why guess. During your job interviews, it’s perfectly legitimate to ask, “Once I move to productivity-based compensation, how much work will I have to do to continue to earn the salary you’re now offering me?”
Take this list to every interview, to help you narrow your choices: