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Received Job Offer w/o benefits included. Acceptable?

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Hello all, new grad here looking for feedback on a job offer because I'm not sure if I'm being taken advantage of or if this makes sense. I'm trying to keep this anonymous so this is a throw away account. Here are more details:

Received offer to work as a PA for a private family med/psych practice that concentrates on offering services to underprivileged populations. Traveled to another state for an interview and I really really liked everyone and the practice and area it's located in. Went to dinner with the owner (an NP) and my potential coworkers (1NP, 1 PA, 2 MDs). I felt like I got along with everyone well and they all seemed like a big family. They also work regularly with students and seem like they would train me really well which is a big plus. I left my interview really excited about the opportunity and was ecstatic to get offered the job. It seems like exactly the type of position and practice I've always imagined/dreamed about working in. 

The offer, however, has me slightly confused. The salary is adequate - it is mid-range for the state and not bad considering I have no experience, but not great either. My starting salary would be $15,000 less than my next lowest offer, but would increase to be only $10,000 less after 6 months, and after 2 years only $5000 less. The biggest thing though is that the practice also does not offer any retirement benefits, does not pay holidays or overtime, and allows only ~2.5 weeks of PTO per year. Plus health insurance (I'm in the US) benefits are only included for me + one other person. So I could add my spouse for example but then the premium for adding anyone else (i.e. my children) becomes so expensive that it's just not feasible. My spouse works so I suppose this does not technically matter because we can keep our children on his health insurance plan, but his insurance is not very good so we were hoping to transfer.

In my heart I think I want to take this job but I'm unsure. I have two other offers that both come with a higher salary plus excellent retirement and health benefits. So I'm wondering if that is the norm, and if so, does that mean something is wrong at this practice that I'm just not realizing? Or perhaps I am being taken advantage of as a new grad?

On the opposite note --- is this practice perhaps just not as well-off as others because the population they serve is primarily low income? Or are benefits just expensive to offer in America and is it therefore normal for private practice positions to not come with great benefits (compared to hospitals, the federal government, etc)?

The practice environment, area of medicine, and training I'd receive is not ideal for me at the other two offers I have -- if all things were equal I'd choose the private practice I described above hands down. However the differences between the offers has me second guessing myself.

Any advice will be appreciated!!!

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As long as you're not being hired as a 1099 (independent contractor), go with your gut. You said a lot in there that tells me you would really like to work there, and it sounds like you can get great experience. Money isn't everything, and you can be in a better bargaining position with a couple-3 years experience under your belt.

There's also the magic word: NEGOTIATE. There's nothing wrong with telling your offer person that you've been offered more money elsewhere, and can they come up a bit? The worst thing is they would say no, and then you're back to deciding. I don't think PAs get much training in terms of negotiating job salaries/benefits while in school.

One question, though, is wouldn't you have to move for this job, and, if so, what would that do to your spouse's job/benefits?

Edited by kittryn
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