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One Way To Think About Two Offers

Business Contracts for Physicians

I’ve had the pleasure several times of advising physicians whose job search had gone so well that they were sitting on two (or more) relatively attractive offers from a hospital, clinic, or practice. Perhaps one from a major hospital and the other from a small private practice. Or one from a teaching hospital and one without a university affiliation. Maybe one offered better benefits but the other allowed moonlighting. Or maybe the two jobs were essentially indistinguishable. Regardless, these doctors fell into two camps.

In the first camp were the doctors who had a clear preference for one job over the other. One job offered a higher salary, friendlier colleagues, a better location, more of a chance for long-term success. They felt that the choice was clear. In the other camp were the doctors who really, really, really just could not decide.

Yet all the doctors had something in common: They all felt that they had a moral obligation to decline one of the offers, post-haste. They felt that doing otherwise would be unfair.

There’s a different way to think about this.

Instead of just rejecting the disfavored offer, one might:

  1. Weigh the offers, make lists of pros and cons (your attorney can help with this)
  2. Identify the one that is most appealing (your gut can help with this)
  3. Figure out what the less appealing one would have to change in order for it to be more appealing.*
  4. Ask for that.

The Reinstein Law Firm, PLLC can’t advise you by blog post. Every situation is different. YMMV.


But is this taking advantage? No. After all, what’s the other option? To flat-out reject the offer from a hospital or practice that really wants to work with you, without giving them an insight into what would change your mind.

If, instead, you tell the hospital/clinic/practice, “Here are the three things you’d need to change in the offer,” then you’re giving them an opportunity to meet your needs. Whether they do so… that’s up to them. But at least they’ll have the chance. That’s fairer than just saying “no thanks” and walking away.

And if they give you what you want?

Not bad at all.

Contact us with your questions about business contracts.

*Within reason. Don’t suggest that they should triple their offer, give you a seat on the board of trustees, and buy you a house. One should not ask for things that aren’t justifiable.
Typewriter image via Wikimedia Commons

  • A. Srinavasan
    10:04 PM, 25 June 2014

    I like this — good exercise for this situation. However what do you think about competing two offers against each other? Is it better to keep them secret? Or make them aware that there are other offers, including the details?

    • Ezra
      2:49 AM, 13 July 2014

      Good question. The fact that you’ve received more than one offer doesn’t need to be a secret (unless there’s a non-disclosure agreement that requires secrecy). But speaking generally, I’d probably discourage a client from expressly pitting the two potential employers against each other. I think it would almost certainly leave a bad taste in both employers’ mouths. There may be a way to accomplish the same goal more tactfully.

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