Preparing for Contract Renegotiation

By Jennifer Anne Hohman

I’ve long been a proponent for contract negotiation as a tool in the arsenal of PA professional wellbeing. Let’s explore how to approach contract renegotiation to improve your existing agreement. With careful preparation, you can emerge from your meeting with a clarified and improved contract, which will do so much for your quality of life at work and beyond.

As with initial contract negotiation, clarity about your goals and focused preparation pay dividends. What’s unique about renegotiation is that you will be negotiating based on your lived experience with this employer—meaning your compensation, benefits, schedule, and other contract elements have been real, not abstractions for as long as your current contract has been signed. As a result, you’ll have concrete insights into what you will want to renegotiate to improve your contract. You’ll also know if your role and responsibilities have evolved in ways that merit changes to your contract.

Preparing for Contract Renegotiation

If a contract renegotiation is on your horizon, here are some ways to prepare effectively and feel confident about the process.

  1. Review Your Current Contract

First, carefully review your current contract. If you do not have a copy, request one from the employer and make a few copies. As you read over your agreement, pay close attention to terms related to compensation, term length and renewal, benefits including PTO and insurance, key duties and responsibilities, work hours including any on call responsibilities, non-compete clauses, termination clauses, and any performance metrics or benchmarks.

  1. Identify Areas for Negotiation

Next, reflect on what aspects of the contract are most important to you to address and renegotiate. What changes would make your job healthier and fairer? Renegotiation areas to consider include salary adjustments, changes to your benefits, additional funding for professional development, scheduling changes to improve work-life balance or other topics that are part of your agreement.

I recommend prioritizing contract issues to renegotiate based on their importance to you; it helps to pick your battles and also to really reflect on what you’d like to change for the better. For some, renegotiation means adding sections that are not in the current document but should be. AAPA’s Anatomy of a Contract is an excellent guide to contract areas to consider. In contract renegotiations, I’ve found that clients have particularly benefited from negotiating new contract sections that clarify their schedules and PTO.

  1. Prepare to Show Your Value

Delve into AAPA’s Salary Report for a detailed look at PA compensation and benefits, including salary ranges based on years of experience, specialty, and state. This will provide you with valuable context and leverage during negotiations. Additionally, gather any relevant data or documentation that supports your position, such as performance reviews, positive patient ratings, details of increased responsibilities since your last negotiation, and expanding scope of practice. Reflecting on the positive contributions you’ve made and any recent endorsements from patients and colleagues is an important part of preparing for a successful renegotiation.

Setting compensation and benefits targets includes evaluating your market value based on factors such as your individual experience, skills, qualifications, and demand for your specialty and cost of living in your location. To gain a wider perspective on your targets, consider consulting with PA peers and your PA specialty association for insights into current market conditions and trends in your specialty.

  1. Identify Specific Changes Desired

Negotiations will go more smoothly if you can clearly articulate the specific changes you are seeking in the contract. You should also be prepared to explain the rationale behind each request, and how it aligns with your professional goals and the needs of the practice/institution.

As preparation for your renegotiation meeting, I suggest creating a document that outlines your negotiation goals with supporting data and evidence. With this resource in hand, you can take charge of the discussion and guide it along productive avenues, and it’s a good way of keeping the conversation from getting sidetracked. Share this document over email with a request to meet with your employer to discuss contract renegotiation. Clearly communicate your goal of revisiting the terms of your employment agreement and propose a mutually convenient time.

  1. Anticipate Objections

Renegotiation with an employer can be stressful, and it definitely helps to prepare so you can go into the meeting with as much calm and confidence as possible. I recommend taking the time to anticipate potential objections or concerns from your employer, and prepare responses or counterarguments to address them. For example, I’ve heard employers question the validity of AAPA’s Salary Report’s salary data. I suggest reviewing the helpful guidance provided by the AAPA Research team on debunking these criticisms.

  1. Conduct the Renegotiation

So here it is, the day of your meeting! Review your negotiation talking points including recent contributions and desire to improve the professional relationship overall. Drawing on your PA communication skills, approach the negotiation process professionally and collaboratively. Maintain open communication, listen actively to the concerns of the other party, and seek mutually beneficial solutions. Be confident in advocating for your interests while also being willing to compromise on certain aspects if necessary. This will be easier if you have really assessed and prioritized your negotiation goals prior to the meeting.

Prepare yourself for pushback and critiques of your arguments for change, and remember that many employers prefer the status quo. This is where self-advocacy really comes into play. Be sure to go into the meeting with anticipated objections defined and countered with calm, factual, and positive counter arguments.

You may consider framing the discussion like this: You are proactively seeking to shore up and improve the terms of the contract to help ensure longevity and mutual benefit. This can help defuse defensiveness and keep the tone collaborative.

  1. Document and Confirm Changes

Once an agreement is reached, I suggest taking steps to ensure that all changes or amendments to the contract are documented in writing. Take the time to review the revised agreement to confirm that it accurately reflects the negotiated terms before signing, and congratulations on doing your part to make your employment relationship a healthy and beneficial one!


Jennifer Anne Hohman is founder of PA Career Coach, a service that offers individualized career and contract negotiation support to the PA community. Reach out with your career concerns at [email protected].