Taking a Candidate-First Approach for Physician Compensation Arrangements

This is part 2 of a 2-part series on an updated approach to specialty physician recruitment. Part 1 reviewed the challenges and outdated methods of specialty physician recruiting, and in this part, we outline the new, updated approach.

Taking a Candidate-First Approach for Physician Compensation Arrangements
Taking a Candidate-First Approach for Physician Compensation Arrangements The Recruiter’s POV: Appreciating the Physician’s Value within Your Health Systems The Candidate’s POV: Understanding Physician Compensation Arrangement Expectations and Personal Motivations Give Them What They Want (Within Reason) Meet Candidates Where They Are with Phairify

Taking a Candidate-First Approach for Physician Compensation Arrangements

Filling specialty physician positions is more than just placing someone in a role. It requires finding the right match between facility needs and physician compensation arrangement expectations.

Effectively placing specialty candidates requires understanding not only their place within the bigger hospital system but the specifics of the precise skills that a facility needs within its operations.

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The Recruiter’s POV: Appreciating the Physician’s Value within Your Health Systems

Specialty physicians do more within a health system than just the procedures they bill for. Therefore, having a complete roster of specialists is critical to the function of a hospital and the care of its patients. Leaving any critical positions open renders the facility unable to provide the most sophisticated care. As a result, hospitals lose revenue because payers, referring doctors, and patients will look elsewhere for the care and relationships they expect.

For example, vascular surgeons do more than just vascular surgery. They’re required to have on staff for level 1 trauma center status, and they support general surgery in ways other specialties can’t.


The Candidate’s POV: Understanding Physician Compensation Arrangement Expectations and Personal Motivations

Compensation Level

Compensation tends to be the most important factor for candidates as they weigh their options.

  • While candidates’ understanding of the market may be as biased as the employer’s understanding, it is the candidates’ bias you need to meet to even get the conversation started.
  • Candidates’ target compensation level will depend greatly on the physician compensation arrangement at issue—for example, how much is guaranteed, how much is variable (at risk), how much is productivity- or quality-based, etc.

Compensation Model

Depending on the facility, there are numerous ways that compensation can be calculated:

  • Salary
  • Base salary + discretionary bonus as determined by the facility
  • Base salary + formula bonus (based on production, hours, value-based outcomes, etc.)
  • Base salary + deferred compensation
  • Production-based salary (wRVUs, collections, hours, etc., or any combination of these elements)

The physician compensation arrangement that is offered can drastically impact total take-home pay. Facilities must understand not only how this impacts a candidate’s perception of the role but also how it incentivizes their work. For example, compensation models that rely heavily on wRVUs will attract the types of candidates who come in knowing how to work to get all the wRVUs. However, that may negatively impact more junior partners and take away some of the cases they found enjoyable. This can lead to a snowball effect where mid-level employees start leaving because they don’t feel like they are getting the experience needed to fuel their own careers.

It’s About More than Money

Of course, physicians are looking for more than just compensation when evaluating a new position. They must consider call, PTO, practice type, and more within that specific geography. Recruiters must understand what these specialists want in their physician compensation arrangements so they can offer a package that motivates them.

One survey found that physicians rank work/life balance as the most important factor in job selection, followed by work schedule, location, job/employer stability, and then salary.



Geography tends to come up as the second (if not the first) most important consideration for new job opportunities. Highly populated cities tend to be more desirable for many candidates. However, recruiters can take advantage of the intangible benefits of practicing in a rural setting by highlighting perks such as working within a tight-knit community, enjoying a safer environment, and greater job satisfaction. Additionally, when considering the cost of living, many rural areas pay significantly better than their urban peers.

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) reports that more than 25% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, yet less than 10% of doctors practice there.


Call Frequency

Work/Life balance is becoming increasingly important at the outset of negotiations with physicians, especially as burnout rates continue to rise. Over half of physicians report experiencing burnout, and call frequency has an enormous impact on these numbers. Just like compensation, call expectations should be explicitly described within opportunity postings. This can be a great way to differentiate your position.

Career Goals

Individual candidate career goals and whether your facility can provide those opportunities could mean the difference between a durable, long-term specialist placement or one who leaves after an initial contract term.

Early career physicians typically want access to interesting cases and opportunities to work with other higher-level specialists for mentorship. Mid-career doctors often look for more leadership or business management opportunities. Late-career doctors nearing retirement may just be looking for opportunities to avoid burnout while enjoying interesting cases and mentoring younger docs.

Other Outside Factors

Every vascular surgeon will have their own mix of personal considerations for any position they take. In addition to the incentives provided by the facility, consider the other factors that might impact a candidate’s willingness to accept—and, especially, relocate for—a new opportunity.

  • Loan repayment incentives
  • Support and funding for additional training
  • Local opportunities for partner or spousal employment
  • Adequate clinical coverage and staffing
  • Expectations around charting and paperwork management
  • Relocation compensation and support
  • Access to other colleagues to cover call
  • Local school districts

Give Them What They Want (Within Reason)

While this new approach aims to take a candidate-first strategy, facilities can’t always give candidates exactly what they want. It’s a delicate balance to offer a desirable package that fills the job promptly to avoid loss of revenue while considering the fixed ceiling.

Federal law prohibits hospitals from simply “giving physicians what they want” if it is inconsistent with what is considered fair market value (FMV). Finding accurate data to determine FMV is critical…that’s where Phairify comes in.

Meet Candidates Where They Are with Phairify

Recruiters have lacked access to vascular surgeon-specific, hyper-localized, accurate market compensation data and an expanded pool of engaged and active job candidates—until now.

It’s time for recruiters to supercharge their candidate search with the latest market data and candidate-matching tools.


Recruiters now have Phairify, a new platform that:

  • Provides a better candidate experience with a platform that gives them a place to safely and anonymously enter the job market, along with the specific criteria they seek in a new position.
  • Utilizes in-depth data that is not only specialty-specific but subspecialty-specific, such as geriatric vascular surgery or pediatric cardiology… all layered with geographic insights and variables.
  • Is cost-effective. Whether you are facility-employed or work for a firm, Phairify costs typically fall within already-approved recruiter marketing budgets. Pricing is based on the number of opportunities you want to match to candidates, and you get to see how many potential candidates match the specific contours of your job opportunity before putting down a credit card.

Phairify gives you access to qualified candidates that were previously hidden by allowing them to remain anonymous until a desirable opportunity is offered to them.


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