Q&A: Questions on compensation


How to deal with difficult salary issues.

Q: I want to switch my associate to ProSal (production plus salary compensation), but I'm not sure how much her guaranteed salary should be. Her total compensation is 24.9 percent of her production. Her current wages are 18 percent ($66,400), so the balance is licenses, social security, vacation, medical insurance, and so on.

Mark Opperman, CVPM, Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and owner of VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colo., suggests you provide a guaranteed base equal to or nearly equal to what she received in salary last year—roughly $66,000. "Hopefully, your associate will exceed that next year with the added incentive of ProSal," he says.

Mark Opperman

Q: Right now I pay salaries and periodic bonuses at my practice. We employ six doctors, and one is dedicated to surgery. How do I award bonuses to the surgeon when all procedures are billed in the system to other doctors? And what percentage of production should doctors receive when they don't perform procedures?

Your dilemma is common but complicated, Opperman says. If you aren't doing so already, separate out what the general practitioners do and what the surgeon does. The rule behind ProSal production credit is simple: Production is defined as income generated and collected for services a doctor formally delivers. So, for example, if a doctor treats a patient as an outpatient or in an emergency, the doctor in the exam room gets the credit. If the patient is referred to the surgeon for a procedure, the surgeon gets credit for that procedure. After surgery, when the case is referred back to the general practitioner, the GP gets the credit again. Doctors referring cases to the surgeon don't get credit for the surgical procedures.

As for percentages, a surgeon should get the same percentage as a general practitioner. The surgeon makes more money because he or she charges more for services.

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