Neurology is one of the most difficult and prestigious specialties in the medical profession, as the brain and nervous system are incredibly complicated; only the best and brightest can make it in this field, so it’s no wonder that it’s one of the competitive areas in all of medicine.
Out of the over 761,700 physicians in the United States in 2022, only 11,340 are neurologists; this is down from 13,392 in 2015, meaning that there’s a huge need for these specialists all across the country. Indeed, the specialty job board PracticeMatch lists an incredible 1,156 open jobs for neurologists, which means that you have more bargaining power than a general physician.
Still, you need to be willing to negotiate and consider a number of factors if you want to find an excellent job that satisfies all your needs. Today we’ll consider some of the components of a great position, including some aspects you may not have considered.
It’s a fact of life for specialists that they may not be able to find any jobs in their area; while PracticeMatch lists open positions in all 50 states and some of the outlying territories, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are within commuting distance of your current home.
With this in mind, you shouldn’t just consider the total compensation when deciding whether an offer is worth your time, but also the cost of living in the area, as this could boost a lower salary into one which provides a much greater quality of life than what it may seem. For example, Cleveland, home to the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, has a far lower cost of living than Baltimore, where the comparable Johns Hopkins University is located.
It’s easy to get starry-eyed at the mystique of working at a certain facility, whether that’s the Mayo Clinic or a well-respected research institution like Harvard Medical School, but you might be disappointed to realize that the overall compensation package at some highly regarded facilities is not as great as you’d expect - especially when also factoring in the cost of living and the price of relocating to the area.
You’ll want to look at whether the job offers relocation benefits and loan repayment options, in addition to the quality of the health insurance. If you or your family members have any pre-existing conditions that will need to be managed, ask them directly for information about the specific health insurance plan, and take a look at it to see whether you will be able to get the medications and interventions that you or your loved one needs. As you know, out-of-pocket expenses for prescriptions or doctor’s appointments can quickly balloon and eat up your salary, so add the quality of health insurance to your metrics when analyzing a specific job.
You may get disappointed when you begin crunching the numbers and see that your dream job isn’t as good as it seems but don’t get disappointed just yet. Negotiation is almost always possible, and your hard work ahead of time - including a great application and careful research into your different job offers - will pay off here.
The medical profession is based on evidence, and that includes when it comes to hiring packages. In order to negotiate for the best salary you can, you need to demonstrate your value on paper; tailor your CV to specific jobs so that you bring all the aspects they want to the forefront of your application. Though you can’t necessarily know whether you’re high on their shortlist, the more of their qualifications that you match, the more that you can push for a better package.
You can also use your previous research as leverage by demonstrating why their offer isn’t as good as another position. For example, you might note that Hospital X, which is situated in an area with a 10% lower cost of living, is offering the same salary with a $20,000 relocation stipend. If you’re planning on using this tactic, be sure to provide actual proof of your arguments, as otherwise, this might seem disingenuous.
The more prestigious your role, the more important it becomes to get the best return on investment for the many years it took to get there. You studied hard in medical school and completed highly competitive residencies, so don’t undersell yourself by taking an offer that is less than what you deserve. By performing careful research on the positions you apply for, you can find yourself in the perfect role, one which allows you a great work-life balance and a generous salary. Utilize specialty job boards with the best opportunities, and don’t be afraid to negotiate using hard facts and comparisons - you’ll thank yourself later when you’re a well-compensated neurologist at the best institution in town.