Female doctors make 8% less than men: 5 tips to negotiate an equitable salary

You and Peter took the same MCAT and both got into the top-rated medical school in the country. You took out the same 6-figure loan to pay for your medical education. You both matched into top research hospitals and spent tireless 80-hour weeks serving patients and perfecting your craft. You were both at the top of your residency class and landed attending jobs at the hospitals of your choice. The only difference is you now make 8% less than Peter. That translates into approximately $91,000 less per year than your male counterparts. It’s hard to believe in 2017 woman are still fighting the equal pay battle. The system is broken and changes need to be made. But we’ll cover that in another blog post. Today we’ve gathered our favorite tips negotiating a fair salary and getting paid what you’re worth!


It’s no secret that there are a few factors that play into how much you will make as a Doctor. Two of the main determinants are location and specialty. Because pay scales vary dramatically based on your specialty, start off by doing some research to better understand the average salary for your specialty. Pair that with an understanding of what doctors in your geographic region make, and you are well prepared to receive and then negotiate the offer. If you’re curious about salary ranges, a great place to start your research is with Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report 2017. Approach your salary negotiation like you did your medical career – armed with facts and data.


Throughout the application and interview process, it’s important to champion all of the work you do, not just the time you spend in the hospital with patients. You are the complete package, and you need to make sure your future employer knows it. Remember, you are your biggest advocate and now is not the time to be shy and humble about all of your accomplishments. Make sure your future employer knows about all the work you do outside of the hospital. This helps differentiate your overall experience as a medical professional. Did you write several journal articles during your residency? Did you participate in a research study? Did you volunteer in an underserved area of the country or world? Did you chair an internal committee? Don’t forget to include everything you’ve done! It’s these “extra” activities that show your passion and dedication to the field. If you’re looking for tips on what to include in your C.V., check out this article from The American College of Physicians.


The potent cocktail of joy + relief that comes with receiving a job offer is often impulse enough to say “Yes!” But don’t jump too quickly. Remember, you have worked so hard to get here, it’s OK to take some time to review the offer and make sure it matches your expectations. Review everything and don’t be afraid to ask questions. And if you need a fresh set of eyes, ask a friend, mentor, colleague to look it over on your behalf. Review the salary offer, but don’t forget about the benefits package including health insurance and retirement options. You have invested so much time and effort getting to this stage in your career, take the time to make sure you get what you want.   


After reviewing the contact and getting a second opinion, it’s time to come back to the table with a counteroffer. Remember, they already offered you the job, if you come back with a reasonable number to counter their offer (based on your research, of course) the worst thing they can say is ‘no.’ And if they do say ‘no’, it’s worth the effort to ask if there are any additional ways to increase the salary. Find out of there is a bonus incentive or a merit-based program that will progressively increase your salary with your tenure at the organization. Salary is an important component of your employment contract, so don’t be afraid to push back and ask questions if you don’t like what you see.


There’s no doubt about it – talking about money is the difficult. Negotiating your salary is awkward and uncomfortable. But think about how hard you’ve worked, how many difficult days, weeks, months, maybe even years you persevered to get to this point – what’s a few more difficult hours? Coming to the table with confidence is key to getting the salary you deserve. And the best way to build your confidence is by doing your research, knowing the numbers, asking the right questions, and getting a second opinion on your contract (if you need it). And when all else fails, give yourself a quick pep-talk in the mirror and check out this TedTalk.