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This is one of the first thing that comes to mind when considering your first job as an attending, along with many other things, of course! However, nowhere in those First Aid books, nor anywhere in the BCSC collection, is there an instructional step-by-step approach to tackling negotiations for that very first contract. Young Ophthalmologists in training are inundated with all the clinical things we need to learn to serve our patients and offer them the best eye care possible. Despite this extensive training, we end up clueless on the “non-medical” aspects of the job.
· Successful negotiation involves voicing needs and being assertive, as demonstrated by stories of initial requests leading to future opportunities.
· Effective negotiation requires continuous improvement, informed decision-making, and respectful communication to maintain positive professional relationships.
· It's recommended to consult both male and female mentors for compensation advice, recognizing the existing gender pay disparity in the medical secto
On the ‘Negotiations ’episode of RWO: The Podcast, Dr. Lisa Nijm, ophthalmologist and attorney - yes, you read it right, she does both! – joins Drs. Nicole Bajic and Grayson Armstrong to discuss personal experiences with contract negotiation as well as pertinent tips they learned along the way. On one hand, Dr. Armstrong shared the challenges of failing to receive any of the initial asks he had during his first job negotiation, but how these early conversations with his future employer ultimately set him for important promotions and job opportunities a few years later when other positions opened up at his institution. This speaks to the importance of voicing your needs on your first negotiations and that being told ‘no ’initially doesn’t mean the negotiation was a failure. Dr. Bajic on the other hand, pierced her way through, and asked for a job when there wasn’t one even available at her institution. Not only that, but she also asked for a signing bonus. Bold! We love a woman who pulls up a chair to make a place at the table!
Pro tip from the podcast: Always ask both your female and male attendings and mentors when deciding what to ask for in terms of compensation! Unfortunately, it is factual that women are still paid less in medicine, but that’s a different talk for a different day, and there’s more to say than could possibly fit in this article!
Back to the podcast, Dr. Nijm has sat on both ends of the negotiations table as both a physician and as an attorney. She puts it best when she says that a negotiation is a process leading to an agreement where communication is continuously improved, so come with a mindset as such, be aware of your needs and requirements, do your research on the institution and the job market, and know that there is always room for negotiation, even after signing a contract. Be aware that you are negotiating with a potential boss or colleague, so make sure you preserve and respect that relationship when going through the negotiating process, as you don’t want to end up having the perfect job with suboptimal collegial relationships.
For more pro tips, including whether you should hire a lawyer or not, the current state of the job market in ophthalmology, and how to know what to ask for, check out to the ‘Negotiations ’podcast on RWO: The Podcast today! Check out the full episode on Spotify, Apple podcast, Cast box or on our website realworldophthalmology.com
Imane Tarib, MD is a trained Ophthalmologist who completed medical school and residency training in Morocco. She completed a refractive surgery research fellowship at the Cole Eye Institute of the Cleveland clinic, and is currently a Cornea Fellow at UIC in Chicago. Tune in to the Real World Ophthalmology Podcast to learn from the experts in the field and enhance your practice. Real World Ophthalmology is a platform made for and by early-career ophthalmologists and trainees to enhance education and practice for young ophthalmologists.