PracticeLink Magazine


The career development quarterly for physicians of all specialties, PracticeLink Magazine provides readers with feature articles, compensation stats, helpful job search tips—as well as recruitment ads from organizations across the U.S.

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58 WINTER 2015 2 0 1 5 AN N UAL Quality of Life issue the repayment rate of their students, and medical schools have the highest level of repayment compared to other occupations." Saving for the future Two-time world heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman once said: "The question isn't at what age I want to retire; it's at what income." According to John Collins, manag- ing director for Waltham, Massachu- setts-based GL Advisor, a company that provides student debt advice to professional graduates, a lot of young physicians think they can't participate in retirement plans until they make a dent in their student debt. "However, we can assess which programs are the best options for helping them relieve their debt burden while saving for retirement. It's def nitely part of the equation," says Collins. GL Advisor got its beginning at Harvard Business School when the company's founder took a class that covered debt markets and how inves- tors are paid. The GL Advisor founder raised a dissenting view that student loans are handled differently than typical debt and therefore should be treated in a different way. The company now advises clients on various consolidation tactics and repayment programs, and company leaders are in hot demand as speakers at medical schools. Caleb McCall, M.D., is an Inter- nal Medicine resident with Jefferson University Hospitals. "While doctors' earnings eventually make up for their relatively much lower salaries in resi- dency, many residents are focused on just starting to pay loan debts as soon as they can instead of using their income to buy a house, a car or think- ing about saving for retirement along with their non-physician contempo- raries," McCall says. Closing the gap Continued Q&A How can I get student loan repayment benefi ts from an employer? Come right out and ask: "I'm most interested in put ing as much as I can toward my education loans. Do you have any suggestions for how we could structure my compensation with that goal in mind?" If you're willing to sign a year or more in advance of your start date, many hospitals have implemented a stipend program for high-demand specialties. A recruit can earmark the monthly payments for loan repayment. If a hospital has a formal student loan repayment program, ask to shift some of the fi rst year compensation dollars to that component. The hospital can pay your lender directly. If another facility has off ered you $25,000 in loan repayment, bring it up when a recruiter asks, "What is it going to take to get you here?" Health care executives must justify enriching a package, and matching a competing off er is the most common reason we do it. We will tell you if we are at the ceiling of what we will be able to do. Once an employer has hit their fair market value for total fi rst year compensation, nothing is going to budge. Ask about a multi-year student loan repayment. Only the fi rst year's payment counts toward that fair market value cap, and the hospital can spread some of your compensation forward to future budget years. Once you have negotiated your terrifi c package including student loan repayment or a stipend, ask your new colleagues for a referral to an accountant familiar with physician compensation. The hospital may be forgiving repayment, but Uncle Sam wants his share. Off -the-shelf tax programs just aren't designed to deal with the complexity of the diff erent types of compensation typically involved in physician recruitment. Therese Karsten, MBA, FASPR, is a senior in-house recruiter for HCA Physician Services. Reach her at Continued on page 60

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