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Friend and I joining same practice, but offered different salaries. What to do?

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  • Friend and I joining same practice, but offered different salaries. What to do?

    First post! Thanks for all the insightful knowledge that I've gained from this community over the years from afar.

    My friend and I are both joining the same private practice general anesthesia group (15+ physician-owned group). I signed 3 weeks before she did, and we have the same background (first job out of training for both of us, same amount of training, same location of training). I told her about the group, coached her through interviews, walked her through the contract. The group knows that she and I are friends, but she was offered 20k more than me per year for the first two years (so 40k more than mine over 2 years) with a 13k signing bonus (that I had originally asked for and they declined). This totals to 53k more than my offer before negotiations. This feels strange and unfair to me. I am not sure if there may be a reason behind it. Should I bring this up to the group? How should I say it if so?

    Some of my concerns:
    1. I already signed my offer. Is there any point in bringing it up now?
    2. In our contract, there is a clause that states we are not supposed to discuss physician contracts. Would I be violating this clause? She discussed these details prior to her signing the contract though.
    3. I think I will enjoy working in this practice from what I know so far and would not want to sour any relationships prior to starting.

    Thank you!!

  • #2
    Yeah I wouldn’t say anything. You don’t know how those negotiations went for her. I don’t know if you are male/female, but I’d be curious if they were trying to recruit more women to their group. Or if the same sex you may want to pick her brain about her negotiation tactics. If you are very sour about it you could look for another job to use as leverage but you’d need to see if that’s possible with the current contract (notification period and leaving without cause). Any discussion about this with the group kind of puts your friend in a bad spot. Worst case scenario is they get pissed at you both and cut you both lose without cause.
    Last edited by ENT Doc; 12-24-2020, 03:54 AM.


    • #3
      As a general employment practice, while you could take this on (for example in court as discrimination perhaps) it would not be worth it for such small differences. Also, as Ent Doc says, you can’t really know the basis of the different offers. Besides, what your friend is paid is no skin off your nose. You accepted the contract and you think you will otherwise like the work. Great, put this aside and enjoy working there. On the other hand, the clear lesson here is that you must look out for yourself in the negotiations with this group. Actually always true, but now you know for sure. Take the next two years to build up a great body of work and consider your next contract either there or elsewhere.


      • #4
        They liked her better. Deal with it.


        • #5
          Ouch. Sounds like an ignorance is bliss situation. All that naggers is that from where you are now, you can take it or find another job. If this is going to burn a hole in your mind every time you think about it, you’re better off elsewhere. If you think you would rather leave, you could try to line up another job offer and then attempt renegotiating. Probably low yield but nothing to lose. Just don’t sabotage your friend on the way out, they don’t need to know that you’re aware of her contract details.


          • #6
            One of the downsides of openly sharing compensation information is that someone is usually disappointed.
            In this situation, you have little if anything to gain and potentially your friend will be damaged.

            You got the information, ethically do no damage. It sounds like you are content and would like to keep the doors open for both of you (partnership eventually?).

            Live with the answer. In the long run, the differences are minor. Positive attitude, bury your disappointment.
            Last edited by Tim; 12-24-2020, 11:47 AM. Reason: Spelling


            • #7
              In life , it really doesn't matter what someone else is making , only what you are making. In medicine, most of your income in the long run is determined by how much work you do. I would be more concerned if you have a different wRVU conversion factor than her. Otherwise take it as a learning lesson to be a stronger negotiator. You went through all this training in life dont sell your self short. Know your numbers and what you want before you start.


              • #8
                I just learned from my group that I was offered a lower bonus (percent of production) than the prior partners. I discovered this a few months after I finished my associateship and became partner. I think I was offered less because the practice is in my hometown and they knew I’d want to come here. It’s really my fault for not realizing my value and not negotiating well. I’ve definitely felt a bit bitter since I discovered this bit of information so I understand how you feel. That said, if everything else is good and there are no other red flags I would let this go.

                However, I would be careful as you move forward to make sure you feel you are fairly treated on your path to partnership and as a partner. Partners who are willing to screw other partners for financial gain aren’t good partners.


                • #9
                  'Fair is fair' doesn't apply in the real world -- yet.

                  You'll see this more in smaller/private practice business than larger group/public systems -- it's highly variable even when the variables are nearly the same -- especially if OP is same sex and race which are two highly sensitive variables that could come into hiring and salary considerations.

                  Recently our FM docs received raises to gain base salary parity with IM docs in our system. Some IM docs have been unhappy about this. My response is - are you unhappy for the FM docs or unhappy about your own pay? If you believe you are underpaid and deserve more -- prove it. What differentiates us as a class overall and how to support that to the bean counters.

                  - Be glad for your colleague she got what she got.
                  - If you're happy with yours, be happy.
                  - I think the whole - discussion of salaries being 3rd rail only benefits the employer -- never the employee. It being voodoo is insane. I LOVE that our UC salaries are all public domain. I would care less if people know my salary as I believe I earn every penny of it. Those that aren't fear that transparency.
                  - Learn what your worth is, set that marker, and if you get it - awesome. You've learned you left 40k on the table this time -- not next time.

                  Congrats on getting to the starting/finish line. Don't forget to celebrate that.


                  • #10
                    Spend time here and, over the years and decades, you probably won't be the jealous one. Continuing to live like a resident/fellow for healthy savings in conjunction with additional investments can easily put your net worth ahead of your colleague after just the first year. Make the most of what you have, and your most valuable tools are knowledge and wisdom far above a few extra bucks. Focus on enhanced experiences and not expensive things and don't go overboard with housing - common mistakes made by new attendings that unfortunately undermine investment allocation and financial security.

                    You have a very long career ahead of you. Big picture is so much more in the grand scheme of things than a 5 or 7% differential in pay. Those that started before you were probably offered less too. Preserve relationships, both with your friend and local employers. Do the very best job you can. Be as kind to your staff and janitorial staff as you are to your colleagues and patients. As an employer myself, I pay better for providers that make the business flow well with minimal disruption. Bring value and new ideas to the group. Proving your worth to others (and yourself) will lead to good things. Preserve your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Stay above the fray. Be consciously aware of how you handle the stress of the job and correct any deficits. There will be so much more important stuff to deal with and how you handle that is what shows your employer what you're worth. Don't sweat the small stuff or you'll have less time to ponder how the manage the big deals - if you're colleague is the one doing that then they will receive the recognition. I personally look at every day as an opportunity to have a major impact on someone's life (in addition the the major impact we have on patients).

                    It sounds like a good place for employment, however once you prove yourself and if you still feel this way, you may ultimately reconsider how valuable they are to you. You may ask them to reconsider their pay scale after a year, not necessarily expecting a contract change although that may be possible, but their response may be telling.

                    Alternatively you can interview elsewhere and make it known. Most contracts allow for departure with 2-3 month notice. Not that you want to leave, but it could be a way of saying you want better pay without saying it while acquiring negotiating leverage. I'm not thrilled with the pay differential, but I would give them the benefit of the doubt that the offers were the same but your friend just negotiated harder unless you know otherwise. Negotiation is a fine art.

                    Very easy to go from a positive attitude to negative feelings and burnout in medicine. Protecting against that is far more important too. Use wisdom, and change an unfavorable situation if you wind up there (doesn't look like this is the case here) rather than feeling trapped. Left my first group employer after 6 years despite a good income but long hours to start private practice, now my income has quintupled with a shorter work week. Time allows for discovery of your value to society and whether your employer values this as well.

                    Wish you well and congratulations on you transition from training to attending.


                    • #11
                      She was a better negotiator. She must have had other offers and gave them what she thought she should be paid and they caved in and gave in. The fact they declined the signing bonus to you and gave it to her shows her skills.


                      • #12
                        Lesson learned but the good news is that you signed a contract that you felt compensated you fairly.


                        • #13
                          After tax it is less if that makes you feel better.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by md1500 View Post
                            Some of my concerns:
                            1. I already signed my offer. Is there any point in bringing it up now?
                            2. In our contract, there is a clause that states we are not supposed to discuss physician contracts. Would I be violating this clause? She discussed these details prior to her signing the contract though.
                            3. I think I will enjoy working in this practice from what I know so far and would not want to sour any relationships prior to starting.
                            1 no
                            2 yes
                            3 see #2


                            • #15
                              I have a different take. The reason that it "feels strange and unfair" is that it is. It's brutal.

                              In my practice, we always treated people coming in together equally, no matter the skill set or whether we needed/wanted one person more than the other, and always considered past practices and future practices when making these decisions. We know that people will talk to one another and never wanted to appear partial to one or the other new hire.

                              Example, about 15 years ago, we were recruiting two rads doing fellowships in town: A with a less desirable skill set and B with a more desirable skill set at the time. A signed first, and B was waffling, and we upped B's offer. B accepted, and we went back and increased the starting salary of A. Fast forward 15 years later and A is the outgoing Chairman of the practice, and B is the incoming Chairman.

                              In my opinion, two virtually identical incoming associates treated differently will lead to ill will and low morale and promotes bad culture and increased turnover. How could the OP not feel bad about the practice? If I were the OP, I would already be looking for the next job.
                              Last edited by VagabondMD; 12-24-2020, 01:08 PM.