What is the Most Common Physician Assistant Compensation Model?
What is the most common compensation model for a Physician Assistant? I would say most contracts that I’ve reviewed and upon all our research here at our firm, it’s mainly a base compensation, so you’re paid a salary. Occasionally, you do have additional bonuses on top of that base compensation. But normally, it’s just outlined in your employment agreement you’re just going to get a base salary. Another common one I see depending on your specialty is you may be paid hourly. You’ll want to calculate that hourly rate to see where you are in relation to if you feel like you’re getting compensated properly. And then also, sometimes there are day rates or shift rates.
So, just upon an 8, 10-hour, or 12-hour shift, you’re compensated with a flat rate. Those are the three different ways: just salary-based compensation, hourly or shift or day rate. You rarely see physician assistants receiving production or RVUs or collections because most of the time, they’re assisting or have a supervising physician, and physicians normally are paid based on those RVUs or collections or productions. Typically, a physician assistant is just going to be paid a fee. And it depends on how that’s outlined in your contract. As I said, there are also other bonuses that you may be compensated for. Sometimes it’s quality assurance, other times there is some type of production. It just depends. Bigger entities usually have their own unique metrics but that should be easily understood in your employment agreement.
If you read it and it’s difficult, or there are a lot of variables or discretion of the employer, that’s something that you would want to get clarified before you sign on that dotted line. Also, you should be receiving some type of signing bonus upon signing or starting your employment with your new employer. This can range anywhere from around 10,000 to 20,000. Again, this is considered income and it’s normally given to you in a lump sum. Just keep in mind that whatever that number is in that bonus in your contract, you may be receiving less because taxes or income taxes will be taken off the top, so that’s something to keep in mind.
And then also, any type of bonus, specifically like a signing bonus or a commencement bonus will typically have some type of strings attached to it, meaning that you have to complete anywhere from one to three years of employment. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay back either that full bonus or that bonus at a prorated amount. So, they’ll forgive a certain portion of it for every month or year that you’ve completed with your employer. And then the last bonus that I normally see on top of your compensation would be some type of retention bonus. It’s normally structured at the anniversary of every year of employment. You can receive anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. And again, that’s going to be a lump sum, so you will have taxes taken out of the top of that. Retention bonuses normally do not have any payback provisions because it’s conditional on you completing a full year. If you quit in the middle of the year, you lose your eligibility for that retention bonus. You’re not going to receive half of it, you receive nothing. So, those are the normal, I would say, compensation models for a physician assistant.
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