Salary Story: I’m A Former NHS Doctor On 86k In Australia
In our series Salary Stories, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.
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Age: 36 Location: Australia Current industry and job title: Paediatric doctor on maternity leave Current salary: £74,000 Number of years employed since school or university: 12
Starting salary: £21,000 in 2010. I was straight out of university, having studied for six years. I was a foundation doctor so doing all the jobs of a doctor on medical wards, surgical wards and in paediatrics but at a basic level, with many people above me to ask and defer to when needed.
Biggest salary jump: £30,000 to £39,000 in 2011. This jump was going from one foundation year to the next and reflected extra experience and extra out-of-hours work. The responsibilities were similar. This year I worked in the emergency department, paediatrics and intensive care.
Biggest salary drop: My salary dropped to £0 per month but with a £300 living stipend during voluntary work in east Africa in 2016. This was during some time out from being an NHS doctor.
Biggest negotiation regret: Although not strictly salary, my biggest regret is not negotiating my time and going part-time (80% of full-time would be an average of 40 hours a week rather than 48). I am a believer that time is money, that money can buy you time and that time is one of your most precious resources. At one point in my career, I really hoped to work 60 or 80% of full-time, which would have meant a reduction in salary accordingly. I contacted the department about this and did not receive a reply. I tried again and again and still nothing. I then worked out that 80% meant working two or three less shifts a month but for a lot less pay. I felt awkward about my request, knowing that attitudes towards less than full-time working are not always positive, so I emailed to rescind my request. Within 10 minutes I got a response saying: “Perfect.” That summed up the attitude of some (but not all) of my colleagues, in my opinion. I regret not pushing to work less than full-time as I became burnt out and exhausted, and childcare costs increased as I had to have my child in full-time childcare just in case I had to work certain days. Most disappointingly and importantly, time with my child and for myself was exchanged for a couple of extra thousand pounds a year (if that) after childcare, which to me is not worth it.
Best salary advice: Salary should not purely be seen as take-home pay. Some people are lucky enough to get extra benefits such as private healthcare (I don’t) or company cars so that’s one thing. For all of us, salary includes the amount of time you are working i.e. not with your family or resting or enjoying hobbies. Time you can’t get back. So consider the financial cost of your time, your physical and mental health, the hours you work, the days off you have — not just what you see on your payslip at the end of the month.
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