Q&A: Figuring on-call compensation
Q: As a general practitioner at a 24-hour practice, I occasionally have to work at night when the ER doctors are unavailable. However, I'm paid only the ER visit fee, even if I have to stay up all night with a case. What is a doctor's time worth overnight?
Your situation is not all that uncommon, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Mark Opperman, CVPM, owner of VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colo. The problem is that you're not charging for your time and therefore not getting compensated as you should. A normal client fee would be between $120 and $180 per hour, of which you would receive an agreed-upon percentage.
That may seem like a lot, but if the case demands that many hours, your fee should reflect that time—and so should your production income. And, of course, clients need to be made aware of these fees, or at least given an estimate. If you spend all night overseeing a case, you need to charge for your time and receive the appropriate compensation.