No matter your medical specialty, current experience level, or long-term career goals, everyone wants to be paid fairly. However, what fair compensation looks like is often unclear to physicians, whether they are just completing training or they are a seasoned attending. Good data on average compensation for jobs like yours is key to uncovering what you should be earning and maintaining a fair level of pay throughout your career. If you know what other physicians in your specialty and location are receiving, you can easily see how your own compensation compares. Accessing high-quality data is important though, and specific sources are crucial to negotiating your pay in the current landscape.

What makes high-quality data?

When looking at physician compensation or salary data, you want access to numbers that are as specific as possible. Salaries and signing bonuses vary dramatically between specialties, locations, practice types, experience levels, and other factors. Data sources that provide the average compensation for physicians matching your specialty, location, and other identifiers will be most useful in negotiations. Specific compensation numbers provide a more tangible idea of what you should be earning and negotiating for.

It is also important that physician salary data is up to date. Pay for jobs like yours, and the overall physician job market, will fluctuate over time. As a result, the average compensation numbers will change too. Many prevalent reports on physician compensation data will be updated at least annually, but the more frequently the better.

Where to find the data

There are a handful of trusted sources for physician compensation data, but Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA) annual report is currently the gold standard. MGMA data meets the majority of aforementioned standards for high-quality compensation data, and it is the source most widely-referenced by physician employers. The data is derived from surveys submitted by those employers, and the latest report is usually available around June of each year.

Resolve rData is another great source of physician compensation data, which is growing in popularity all the time. Resolve is a physician employment contract review and negotiation company that reviews thousands of contracts each year. Salaries, signing bonuses, and other data are collected from those contracts and added to rData on a daily basis. Physicians can also manually add their compensation to the data pool, even if they have not used Resolve’s services. Additionally, a limited amount of rData is viewable free of charge, whereas most other data sources require payment to access. With the ability to filter data by specialty, location, practice type, and more, rData is both specific and always up to date.

What you need for negotiations

As you may have gathered by now, there are some pros and cons to the available compensation data sources. MGMA is what employers use as a benchmark, however it is not updated very often and limited to employer responses. rData is updated every day and sourced directly from physicians, but it is not what employers typically reference. Despite these differences and what you might prefer, when it comes to negotiating your employment contract, MGMA data is necessary.

In order to negotiate on a level playing field, you must access the same data as your employer. Since employers decide your compensation based on MGMA, they will be well-aware when your pay has fallen behind the MGMA average or they have sent you a below average offer. If you reference the same MGMA data, you also know when you are earning less than you deserve and you can easily prove it. Your request for a fair level of compensation should come as no surprise to your employer since they already know where their offer stands relative to the MGMA average.

Diversify your sources

While MGMA is important for negotiations right now, alternative compensation data sources are always growing and gaining recognition. It is often helpful to have more current data overall and additional information on sub-specialties which MGMA and similar reports may lack. Sources like rData can help fill those gaps by providing regular updates on what physicians in your specialty are earning or simply expanding the data pool for smaller specialties. Since the data is sourced directly from physicians, there is an opportunity for greater pay transparency as well.

If you need to negotiate a contract, and your employer is citing MGMA, you should absolutely access the same report and have an experienced attorney help you interpret the data. However, take the time to explore various sources and keep yourself informed of the entire market for your job. Being aware of what compensation you deserve and having the supporting data acts as powerful leverage in negotiations and keeps you on track for higher career-long earnings.

If you are concerned about a non-compete in your contract, Resolve can help you understand how the clause affects you and negotiate if necessary. Resolve is the #1 rated physician contract review and negotiation firm in the nation, and they will make sure your contract treats you fairly. Connect with an experienced attorney who will take your priorities into account, identify red flags in your contract, and even negotiate on your behalf.