"Before you even start your contract negotiation, I think it's really important to have a negotiation with yourself and understand what's important to you," says Siobhan M. Hartigan, MD.
Siobhan M. Hartigan, MD, was recently a moderator for a panel discussion on contract negotiation at the Society of Women in Urology (SWIU) Annual Clinical Mentoring Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. In this video, she offers advice for women on how to approach a contract negotiation in their career. Hartigan is a urologist at Hunterdon Urological Associates in Flemington, New Jersey.
Before you even start your contract negotiation, I think it's really important to have a negotiation with yourself and understand what's important to you and what your priorities are. Visualize: what do you want your practice to look like? For so many of us, our negotiations for a job or our job search after training is the first time where we're actually in control. You get to choose where you go and what your practice is going to look like. Up until that point, it was a match process for residency and possibly fellowship. When you're looking for your first job, this is really your first experience with deciding what's important for you and what you're looking for.
So, I think you need to sit down and be really honest with yourself. What kind of patients do you want to see? What kind of practice do you want to be in? Do you want to be in charge? Do you want to have responsibilities in terms of running a private practice? Or would you rather be employed? Do you want to be in an academic setting? Do you want to teach? Do you like it, or have you just been doing it because you've been in academics and training? These are all things that are really important to know about yourself before you even start negotiating.
I would also talk to as many people as you can and hear their stories about what they ask for, what they got, what they wish they did better, and really do your homework before you go in. Once you see a contract, I think it's really important to make a list of your asks and like the panel said, really think outside the box. This doesn't have to be just negotiating a salary number. It doesn't have to be just your sign-on bonus. There are so many things that you can ask for: CME money, support staff, equipment, OR block time, research time, research support, maternity leave. The possibilities are endless.
You want to have a list of all of the things that, in an ideal world, would make your life perfect. Then on that list, think about: What are the most important things? What are the dealbreakers if you don't get them? What's going to make you walk away? Then also what you're willing to give up. Because you're not going to get all of it. It's a 2-way street with negotiation. What are things that you might ask for, but you're okay with not getting, and you're willing to compromise? Those are the big pieces of advice. For me, when I was going through this process, I just felt like the more people I could talk to, mentors, peers, about my ideas and about the offer, I thought was really helpful.
This transcript was edited for clarity.