What Types of Physician Assistant Benefits are Commonly Expected?
There are approximately 132,940 new physician assistants who join the ranks of the workforce each year according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These talented workers come into the field with an expected median wage of $119,460 annually ($57.43 hourly), and they are also likely to find themselves as the beneficiary of numerous workplace benefits that are not always available in other lines of work. To get the most from their career, it is valuable for physician assistants to both know how much they are worth to the workforce, and also know what kind of benefits they should lobby their employers to obtain for themselves.
Where do Physician Assistants Work?
Before we can dive into what kind of benefits a physician assistant may request from their employer, it is ideal to know where these physician assistants work in the first place. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a breakdown of this data as well:
- Office of Physicians: 70,000 assistants
- General Medical Hospitals: 30,020 assistants
- Outpatient Care Facility: 13,450 assistants
- Specialty Hospitals (substance abuse facilities for example): 1,520 assistants
- Ambulatory Medical Services: 770 assistants
As you can see from these figures, most physician assistants will be negotiating directly with a physician’s office or a general medical hospital. Both of these types of facilities are typically easier to negotiate with because they usually have the resources necessary to provide their workers with additional benefits. However, those who work in smaller facilities or in outpatient care may discover that they have a tougher mountain to climb. It can still be done, but the work involved will certainly be amplified.
What Kind of Benefits are Expected?
A brand-new physician’s assistant can expect to receive some benefits from their employer, but they may not be able to negotiate the entire array of benefits that they may get with more experience. That said, even new PAs should not shy away from asking for some of the following benefits.
Health Insurance Coverage
A basic structure of the American healthcare system is that the vast majority of employees are covered by an insurance plan offered through their employer. This employer-based healthcare system is something that physician assistants are well-aware of, and it is something that they need to adapt to in order to make sure they have the coverage that they require to protect their health.
Depending on where they work, some PAs may have the chance to get heavily discounted healthcare programs because they can receive many of the services that they require directly at the facility where they work. That is something worth looking into more deeply as you scan your contract.
Retirement Plan (401k)
The median amount of money that the average American has saved in their 401(k) retirement plan is just $33,472 according to an analysis by investment house Vanguard. This is disturbing because it means that most people are not saving nearly enough toward their eventual retirement. It is also something that should motivate every physician assistant to make sure they have a 401(k) plan included in their contract. After all, no one should count on programs such as Social Security to bail them out if they don’t save enough for retirement.
A variety of options should be available to every employee who wants to put money away in their 401(k) program. This means that physician’s assistants need to look into the depths of the 401(k) plan that is offered to them so they can figure out if it is indeed a quality program that they can rely upon.
Paid Time Off (PTO)
No matter who you are or what you have going on in your life, you will need to take some time off from work in order to recharge your internal batteries. Taking some paid time off (PTO) allows you to do so without worrying about missing out on a paycheck. That is one of the biggest concerns that people have when they take some time for themselves, and it shouldn’t have to be this way. Employees should be able to enjoy their freedom to take a break from the day-to-day work that they do in order to enjoy some time for themselves.
PTO should be a demand made even by those who are brand-new PAs. There is no reason not to be able to enjoy at least some time off throughout the course of the year. The standard is to allow for at least 2 weeks of PTO per year, ideally more.
After a physician’s assistant has established themselves with a new employer, they may consider renegotiating their contract:
After the six-month-to-one-year trial period, the PA should be very comfortable in the practice. This is when the PA can become more valuable to the SP/practice because she/ he can start to attract her/his own patient referrals and has earned the trust of the support staff and community. At this time, it is common to renegotiate the PA’s compensation to a salary + percentage-based structure.
They are bringing extra value to their employer at that point, and they deserve to be compensated for that additional value. Thus, when a PA reaches that point, it may be time to call in a physician assistant contract attorney to help one examine exactly what to fight for in their next round of contract negotiations.
How Does the Attorney Add Value?
A contract attorney is extremely helpful at this stage of the process because he or she can make sure that everything that you have negotiated so hard for is truly added to your new contract. They will check the contract line-by-line to verify that your employer has met the terms that you believe they have. The negotiation process can be lengthy, and no one wants to give up the ground that they have fought so hard to win in the first place. Thus, it just makes sense to have an attorney look over everything when it is completed.
Our bottom line is to help you get the salary and benefits that you deserve, and we will fight for that mission.
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