international medical graduate physician shaking hands with a physician recruiter in front of a contract
international medical graduate physician shaking hands with a physician recruiter in front of a contract

Negotiating physician contracts as an IMG

Read PracticeLink articles by Megan Trippi
Megan Trippi

Table of Contents

Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated the complex journey of becoming an International Medical Graduate (IMG) physician in the United States.

Now, as you stand on the threshold of your medical career, it’s time to turn your attention to the critical task of negotiating your contract. Negotiating physician contracts as an IMG may seem daunting, but with the right strategies and preparation, you can secure a contract that reflects your skills, values and career goals.

The importance of contract negotiation

Your employment contract is more than just a piece of paper — it’s the foundation of your professional life in medicine. It outlines your roles, responsibilities, compensation and working conditions. A well-negotiated contract can set you on a path to a fulfilling and successful career, while a poorly negotiated one may lead to dissatisfaction, stress and financial setbacks.

Considerations for IMG physicians

Know your worth

As an IMG physician, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the value your skills, experience and the unique qualities bring to the table. Research the average compensation and benefits offered to physicians in your specialty and location to establish a baseline for your negotiations.

Leverage your skills and experience

Highlight your achievements, clinical experiences and any additional certifications or training you possess. These can be strong negotiating points when discussing compensation, responsibilities and opportunities for advancement.

Seek legal counsel

Contract negotiations can be legally complex, and it’s in your best interest to consult with an attorney who specializes in physician contracts. They can review the contract, identify any potential pitfalls and ensure your rights and interests are protected.

Consider non-financial factors

Don’t focus solely on salary and benefits. Consider other aspects of the contract, such as work hours, call schedules, vacation time, opportunities for professional development and the potential for academic involvement if that aligns with your career goals.

Strategies for successful negotiations

Start with research

Thoroughly research the hospital or healthcare system you’ll be working for. Understand their culture, values and reputation. This knowledge will help you tailor your negotiation strategy to align with the organization’s objectives.

Prioritize your needs

Create a list of your priorities and non-negotiables. This can include salary expectations, benefits, work hours and any specific career goals. Having a clear understanding of what matters most to you will guide your negotiations.

Practice communication

Successful negotiations require effective communication skills. Be prepared to articulate your needs, concerns and objectives clearly and professionally. Listen actively to the employer’s perspective and be open to compromise when necessary.

Be patient

Negotiating a contract can be a lengthy process. Don’t rush through it and avoid making hasty decisions. Take your time to review the terms and seek clarification on anything you don’t fully understand.

Seek solutions

Approach negotiations with a mindset of finding mutually beneficial solutions. While you may have specific needs, your employer also has goals. Strive for an agreement that satisfies both parties.

Contract components to review

Compensation package

Ensure that the salary, bonuses and benefits meet your financial expectations. Review any performance-based incentives and how they are calculated.

Responsibilities and duties

Clarify your roles, responsibilities and expectations in terms of clinical work, administrative tasks and any potential research or teaching responsibilities.

Termination and noncompete clauses

Understand the terms under which the contract can be terminated and any noncompete clauses that may restrict your ability to practice elsewhere after leaving the organization.


Review health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off and any other benefits offered. Ensure they align with your personal and family needs.

Professional development

Discuss opportunities for continuing education, attendance at conferences and involvement in research or teaching activities if these align with your career aspirations.

Negotiating physician contracts as an IMG can be a challenging yet rewarding process. It’s an opportunity to shape your medical career according to your aspirations and needs. Remember that effective negotiation is a skill that can be developed over time. Your contract is not just a document; it’s the blueprint for your future as a healthcare professional.

Read PracticeLink articles by Megan Trippi

Megan Trippi

Easy to Register >> Control your visibility >> 100% free

Take control of your Job Search

Recommended PracticeLink Magazine Blogs

Learn about the Conrad 30 Program and what it takes to apply for and receive J-1 visa waivers to practice in the United States. Learn about the Conrad 30 Program and what it takes to apply for and receive J-1 visa waivers to practice in the United States.
PracticeLink MagazineOctober 27, 2020
What physicians should know about the Conrad 30 Program
If you’re a physician who has a J-1 visa and you are seeking a waiver in place of the two-year