Does your salary matter to you?
Each year you’ll find circulating articles from sources like the American Academy of Physician Associates, Medscape, Becker’s Healthcare and more that list the top 10 specialties by salary for the PA profession by pay. They pop up on LinkedIn and in those PA community groups you are in on various social platforms. Sorting specialties by pay, salary and compensation is interesting, but is it the thing that you should actually be weighing the most heavily the salary?
This curiosity is normal. You may find yourself searching “how much do PAs make?” if you are considering making a change in setting or specialty.
(In case you’re dying to know the latest in top paying spots in healthcare for PAs, here’s the AAPAs take.)
It’s the same ol’ same ole… I bet you could name some of the top specialties based on your walking around knowledge of the profession and subspecialties.
The top paying specialty list often includes Cardiovascular Surgery, Dermatology, Neurosurgery, Surgical Subspecialties, the ER and others.
But before you scramble to apply for your next position doing CT surgery, I want you to ask yourself “Does money matter most to me right now?”
Yes, salary matters! Of course it does… to some degree.
Money matters so much that you are going to need to earn “enough”. But what is your enough point?
That point at which you can support your family, meet your basic needs and have some margin and abundance in your life.
Salary is important in so far as it meets that enough point but basing your specialty and job search choices on these top paying specialty lists is a little narrow minded.
Putting salary on a pedestal means that you are missing other, arguably more important factors in finding a position that meets your needs during the season that you are in.
This episode of The PA Is In is filled with things that are MORE IMPORTANT than how much money you make – this list is based on my own experience practicing clinically as a PA as well as your answers.
“How much do you make?” – The Bottom Line re: Salary
It’s no secret that certain PA specialties earn more money than others. Certain specialties (dermatology, cardiothoracic surgery and others) are often the ones that top those top paying PA specialty lists. But before you rush to check out those top pay lists, it’s crucial to first ask yourself IF pay is what matters most to you.
In this episode we are exploring 10 things (other than salary) to consider before choosing a job and a specialty.
Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with years of experience under your belt or a new graduate at the beginning of your career, this episode is packed with valuable insights about non-salary benefits of working as a PA. You’ll walk away with renewed hope in the compensation you’re already getting and a framework to determine which of those things matter most to you.
1. The People > The Salary
Relationship with your attending physician and coworkers. The people and the community are so incredibly important. How you feel when you are at work makes a huge difference.
Another thing that our community highlighted when they shared what they love about work was their feeling of connection with colleagues. In fact, one of the things providers shared was “With the right people, it’s magic!”
Magic! I want to work somewhere that it feels like magic. How about you?
2. The Schedule > The Salary
You need a schedule that works for you during this season of life that you are in. The schedule that works for you will look different than the schedule that works for me.
Think about hourly pay so you get paid for the work you are doing. If you have the wiggle room in your budget, what if you adjusted your schedule to part time or fewer days per week?
Flexibility is the most common aspect that providers share what they love about their job. They adore when their employers are flexible with them and love working places where their team “Gets it” that life happens.
3. That You are a Person first, Provider second
A job where you can maintain your humanity is more important than any number of dollars in your paycheck. If you can find a position where you are treated like a person first and a provider second, you’re golden.
4. The Autonomy > The Salary
A commonality in answers when we asked our listeners what matters most to them (above and beyond salary) was clinical autonomy. Specifically the ability to make your own clinical decisions for your patients.
When you are able to work and operate at the top of your license you feel great about what you are doing for patients.
5. The Ability to grow > The Salary
Finding a position where your clinical practice and career growth are not stagnant is key. This one is a tricky pull between feeling comfortable and being able to step outside your comfort zone to grow.
Growth looks different for everyone, but having a job in a specialty where you can hone your skills, lean into personal and professional development helps you to feel like you’re moving in a positive direction (because you are).
6. The Admin/Paperwork burden
Working places where you can create (or better yet they already have) systems in place to reduce administrative burden is better than your paycheck.
7. The Ability to leave work at work
Being able to turn off your brain and not carry the weight of work home. Whether you’re working hourly, shifts, inpatient or outpatient, being able to turn it off when you are at home is key.
Burnout happens when our stress outstrips our ability to deal with that stress. Detaching from work, enacting skills to complete the stress cycle is better than any amount of pay!
8. The Type of Practice Setting
This is different for everyone and can shift and change as we walk through different seasons of life. Take a moment to think about what setting you need right now.
Consider aspects of working in Private Practice vs. Corporate Medicine. In my experience finding a place that works for you with the flexibility you may want or need in corporate medicine is harder.
Think about finding a 1099 position as an independent contractor if you don’t need work fostered benefits. Another alternative is academics and teaching the next generation of providers!
9. The Non-Salary Compensation Package
Understandign the entire compensation package is so important. This includes aspects like retirement, insurance coverage, and the entire benefits suite.
The bottom line is that when you really feel like you’re being paid well for the work that you are doing, you feel great about the package.
Having PTO isn’t enough. You want to work somewhere where the culture promotes that using your PTO is available, normal and expected. The team needs a system to cover you when you are off so you can truly unplug.
Changing mindset from submitting a “vacation request” to seeing it as the act of notifying work that you are unavailable when taking your paid time off has been a game changer for me.
Predictable Annual Raises
Knowing how, when, and by whom you’ll be evaluated. The understanding that you can expect regular raises in the form of cost-of-living increases or merit evaluations and increased compensation based on those.
10. A Feeling of Fulfillment
Fulfillment is, by definition, satisfaction or achievement of a goal, desire, or expectation. Feeling fulfilled means that you are using your skills and talents to their fullest ability.
Aspects like loving what you do and connecting with your patients matter deeply in how fulfilled you feel.
If you need help comparing two job offers or negotiating to get some of these benefits – an improved schedule, a better compensation package or other improvements, use this link to book a negotiation consultation.
Love this information but still wanting to earn more money in your current position as a clinician? Download the Clinician Negotiation Roadmap.
And be sure to subscribe to The PA Insider Newsletter to be kept up-to-date on all that’s happening with the #physicianassistant profession.
Ready to take the next step in your journey to sustainability and a paycheck you are proud of as a PA?
Don’t miss the opportunity to book a no-commitment, free consultation with Tracy and her team. We’re here to guide and support you from burnout to balance, from feeling under appreciated to be fairly compensated, creating a plan to cultivate sustainability for your career.
Schedule a Negotiation Consultation today for effortless negotiations and to earn a paycheck you’re proud of.