Understanding Physician Bonuses and Benefits

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Physician salaries continue to rise, although more modestly than in years past. You may find that hard to believe considering the 24-7 handwringing over the physician shortage, but have no doubt that physician compensation is still rising and becoming more complex.  After all, it is simple economics, as demand rises and supply stays the same or fails to rise commensurately, the cost (in this case salary) is going to rise.  For example, according to Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report 2018 average salaries for Primary Care and Specialties rose between 3 and 5% from 2017.  Hospitals and health systems are finding other ways to compensate physicians than base salary.  Many bonuses and benefits are not available everywhere but are often based on setting and geographic area.  Let’s try and make sense of some of the more popular physician bonuses and benefits.

Guaranteed Salary

This is one piece of your compensation package that is helpful to have your lawyer examine. Depending on your contract, this may be a 100% guarantee that you will earn X annually, or there may be a lower annual guarantee that includes incentive triggers that when met will increase your overall compensation. When incentives are involved, you will want to understand RVU’s and how they are tied to your salary.

Sign-On Bonus

The competition for physicians across the spectrum of care has led to an increase in the prevalence and amount of sign-on bonuses.  Depending on geographic location, physicians may be seeing signing bonuses up to $40,000. On the flip side of that, some regions are only offering bonuses up to $7,000.  Where you are willing to work can be financially beneficial.

Student Loan Forgiveness

An increasingly popular bonus being offered to new physicians is student loan forgiveness in return for a commitment to a contractual length of stay in the position. Once, a mainstay of rural and community health recruiting, the fierce competition for physician’s services have made student loan forgiveness a major attraction in the recruitment process.

Malpractice/Liability insurance

Insurance to protect physicians against malpractice claims is the most frequently provided benefit. This is another benefit that you should have your lawyer review to ensure that you understand coverage limits, statutes of limitations upon your leaving the position, and other details.

Relocation Stipend

Another popular benefit to consider is the relocation benefit.  Relocation stipends can generally be negotiated depending on the geographic area and individual circumstances. In these cases, it is important to fully understand what the requirements are to earn the stipend and how it will be paid out.

Retention Bonus

Because of the rising costs associated with physician vacancies and recruitment, retention bonuses are becoming a popular addition to the physician compensation package.  This bonus can be paid incrementally throughout the length of the employment contract or in some cases upon completion of the contract.

Other bonuses and stipends can be available but are less common.  In some geographic locations, physicians may be offered with a vehicle stipend, housing allowance, parking stipends, and more depending on specific challenges that one might find in a certain area.  These aren’t as common as some other incentives you can find, but if you are working with a good recruiter, they can alert you to many of the available perks.

To learn more about physician compensation or to work with a career partner who can assist you in finding the right opportunity to match your skills and career goals, contact Jackson Physician Search today.

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