Salary Surveying in Healthcare

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In healthcare, the salaries of employees make up the bulk of expenses for health organizations. Health professions often require intense training, long years of schooling, and licensing and credentialing. Because of these factors, healthcare professionals are paid high salaries, especially physicians who average approximately $195,000 for primary care physicians and $284,000 for specialists. Salary history requests have been coming under fire for the past few years by lawmakers. Many locations have been banning due to equal pay discrepancies based off of salary histories (O’Brien, 2017). Despite the bans, there are pros and cons to salary history amidst the controversy that surrounds it. I will be briefly describing some of these and how they relate to healthcare.

Salary history is a method used by HR departments to gauge how much an employee may need to be compensated, but may studies now link salary history to wage disparities suffered by minorities. In many cases, female physicians are still paid approximately $15,000 less that their male counterparts (Laff, 2016). There is no true explanation for the wage gap, but recruiters inquiring about salary histories often contributes to the issue. Many companies use salary history in deciding the salary offered to candidates which sometimes don’t benefit minorities who may have been subjected to lower wages and less pay advances in previous jobs. Because of incidents such as this, many lawmakers have moved to remove barriers such as salary histories to promote equal pay among everyone.

Despite the shortcomings that salary histories may have, they do provide important insights for both potential candidates and HR departments. Salary histories can give HR recruiters insight on a candidate’s performance history based off salary increases and bonuses. Pay bumps and bonuses can indicate a candidate that has high potential to perform at a high level, which could be advantageous for a health organization looking for innovative leaders. This could also prove beneficial for candidates that are looking for a larger salary to reward their hard work. HR Departments could also identify candidates that may be too expensive before wasting time in the hiring process. Although a candidate may have all the qualifications for a job, a health organization may not be able to afford that health professional.

Salary history has as many pros as cons. It should be every health organization’s mission to aim for equal pay of all employees. The discussion of salary does not always guarantee  candidate will paid their ideal salary despite having a previously high salary. Many employers still view salary history as an instrumental part of the hiring process, and companies have pushed back against lawmakers (O’Brien, 2017). Going forward, hiring salary will continue to be a hot topic concerning the hiring process.


O’Brien, M.J. (2017). Salary-History Bans Expanding. Human Resource                   Executive. Retrieved from

Laff, M. (2016). New Study Examines Physicians’ Gender Pay Gap. AAFP. Retrieved from




2 thoughts on “Salary Surveying in Healthcare

  1. What a great topic!! I can completely see both sides of it. I am sure it is tempting for potential candidates to fudge on their salary history in hopes of a pay increase. You mentioned that HR Departments could identify candidates that may be too expensive with this strategy. In some cases, they may not be considered for that reason. However, this could eliminate a good candidate that is willing to take a pay cut. I am a prime example. I took a huge pay cut to leave the private sector and work for the state. HR could have reviewed my salary history, and I would have been overlooked. I was willing to make the sacrifice for the other benefits included with the job.


    1. You make a great point with that Kim. I agree that a candidate could be overlooked due to the high salary they may have once had, even though they were willing to take a pay cut. That is another issue that one could bring up when questioning whether salary history should be banned. Salary history is entirely situational, which can make it unreliable a lot of times. I read in one article that even though you may have a high salary, companies may still underpay you to save money. It all just depends.

      Another point to that is one must consider that every company has different qualities that they deem valuable. What you may have gotten paid for at your old job, may not get you paid as much at the next due to differences in missions and values. It is something to think about as one goes out in the market and searches for a new job. Value varies between employers, and it also differs between employers and potential candidates.


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