Back then, signing bonuses were considered a little extra to attract physicians into working for employers. However, signing bonuses have become so commonplace that, as a physician, the question is no longer “does the employer offer a signing bonus” but “how big is this employer's signing bonus?”. You'd be hard-pressed to find employers that don't offer signing bonuses on top of other compensation for physicians these days.
With the average signing bonus set at $24,000, and the highest offers reaching well over $100,000, signing bonuses definitely work well as an incentive for joining… but is that all there is to it?
More than Monetary
As a physician, the true worth of a signing bonus to you goes beyond mere monetary value: it actually tells you a few things about the employer and your future tenure with them. Here's a quick rundown on why a signing bonus is worth more than its monetary value.
For example, with a signing bonus, you'll have an easier time getting through the interim period if you get transferred to a location that has a lower base salary than the original since the bonus can help supplement your income during the interim period or until the salary is adjusted.
An Early Start
Signing bonuses are also perfect for physicians fresh off medical school. High tuition costs and no initial job means a lot of new physicians have to deal with huge amounts of debt during their first few years on the job. The signing bonus helps ease their financial burdens so they can focus on getting on their bearings sooner rather than later, and even gives them more options such as using the bonus as payment for taking extra courses for further certification.
Normally, you wouldn't want to work for an employer that doesn't offer negotiable salary rates for a position. You can walk away and find another employer, but what if you don't have any other options or the next employer is hours away? A signing bonus can make the offer a viable option for you.
A signing bonus may seem like a short-term solution since you get the money ASAP, but a closer look will show you that it actually has a long-term impact. For example, a big signing bonus may be worth more than several smaller salary increases after several years of working for the same company.
Building Lasting Partnerships
Signing bonuses also yield more than easily accessible cash; they are also great for establishing a great relationship between physicians and employers. Many physicians claim that having good signing bonuses and other incentives help build their trust on their employers and also motivate them to work harder. It can also help you overcome a few problems like limited leaves or non-flexible work schedules that otherwise would've made working for that employer a lot less satisfying.
Are signing bonuses really worth it for physicians? If we're considering the benefits we mentioned earlier, and if the amount is big enough to compensate for the quirks of a job offer, they're definitely great for you in more ways than one.