A physician shaking hands with a recruiter in front of a calendar and clock
A physician shaking hands with a recruiter in front of a calendar and clock

How to negotiate a flexible schedule

Read articles by Jackie Farley
Jackie Farley

Table of Contents

So often in the healthcare industry, physicians learn to cope with grueling schedules that demand their time and energy. Balancing patient care and administrative responsibilities while still maintaining a personal life can be a daunting task. The good news is that you can negotiate a flexible schedule in your employment contract that will allow you to strike a healthy work-life balance. Here are a few key strategies for you to master the art of negotiating a flexible schedule during contract negotiations for a new position.

The importance of a flexible schedule

Before we talk about negotiation strategies, le’ts discuss why a flexible schedule is so crucial. Some primary benefits are: Enhanced work-life balance: A flexible schedule enables you more time for personal and family life. This helps reduce physician burnout and enhances overall well-being. Improved patient care: Physicians who are well-rested and less stressed are better equipped to provide high-quality patient care, which ultimately benefits both the doctor and their patients. Professional development: Having a flexible work schedule provides opportunities for continuing education, research and career growth.

How to negotiate you schedule

  1. Research and prepare
To be able to negotiate effectively, begin with thorough research and preparation. Think about the kind of flexibility you require. Do you need part-time hours, remote work options or adjustable shifts? Then, look at your prospective employer. Are there any precedents for flexible scheduling? Research the organization’s culture, policies and existing physicians’ schedules to get an idea of how they do their scheduling. What are other physicians in your specialty negotiating in terms of flexible scheduling? A little extra research can help you determine what is a reasonable request.
  1. Communicate your value
During negotiations, emphasize the assets you bring to the organization: your skills, experience and the positive impact you can make on patient care and overall practice. Make it clear that a flexible schedule will enhance your ability to excel in your role.
  1. Find the right time
As in all things, timing matters. Ideally, discuss flexible scheduling after you’ve received a job offer but before signing the contract. This shows your commitment to the position while giving you room to negotiate the terms.
  1. Be specific and clear
When you begin discussing your need for a flexible schedule, be specific about your requirements. Clearly define the hours, days or shifts you need.
  1. Offer compromises
Remember negotiation works both ways. Be open to compromises and alternative solutions. If your potential employer has concerns about your schedule request, discuss ways to address them while still meeting your needs.
  1. Highlight the benefits
Emphasize the benefits of a flexible schedule for the employer. Mention how it can lead to improved physician retention, reduced turnover costs and a more satisfied workforce. A happier and healthier physician is an asset to any healthcare organization.
  1. Seek legal counsel
Consider seeking legal advice from a healthcare attorney if you aren’t sure about the legal aspects of your contract or the negotiation. They can provide guidance and ensure your rights and interests are protected.
  1. Be prepared to walk away
A flexible schedule is an important aspect of your work-life balance. Don’t settle for less than what you need. Remember you have the option to decline the job offer if the terms are not what you are looking for. Negotiating a flexible schedule as a physician job candidate is not only possible but also essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Keep in mind that negotiation is a skill that improves with practice, so don’t hesitate to advocate for your needs and well-being during contract negotiations.
Read articles by Jackie Farley

Jackie Farley

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