Physician Employment Contract Negotiation Mistakes To Avoid
Physician employment contracts can be a complicated and sometimes controversial topic. These contracts outline what both parties are expecting from each other in regards to behavior, compensation and future performance. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new job and sign on the dotted line without truly appreciating the breadth and scope of what you are agreeing to. So next time you evaluate an employment contract, keep a look out for these contract trouble areas:
Non-compete clauses (NCC) are commonly found in Medical Provider contracts in today's healthcare market. These clauses essentially place limits on where and in what capacity a practitioner can work after terminating employment with the company. NCC's frequently restrict your ability to work with competitors, start a competing business or practice within a defined geographic area of the employer. When you sign a contract that includes an NCC you are agreeing to any restrictions that they impose in the contract and this could really limit your practice in the future should you choose to leave the employer. Be certain that you understand what restrictions you are agreeing to and any time limits they may have associated with them.
Performance evaluations are commonly used to judge your annual performance and provide a structure to base compensation changes on. In many organizations, these reviews provide the only opportunity you may have to interface with your administration to negotiate your compensation. For this reason, it is critical to know how often and on what measures you will be judged on. Clarify the exact measures that they will be judging you on i.e. patient census, billing measures, satisfaction scores, readmission rates and how often they will be performing these reviews. Knowing what you will be judged on allows you to prep for each review and will give you a leg up during the negotiation process.
Unclear Job Responsibilities
When you start any new job your role should be clear. Employer expectations regarding issues like work hours, clinic coverage, research, call coverage, patient loads, mentoring or leadership roles should all be clearly defined. Having a clear definition in the beginning can eliminate a lot of issues that may arise later if an employer's demands become disproportionate. This also will provide you a clear understanding of the scope of what you are agreeing to do for them.
Many contracts will have added restrictions that can limit what you can do with your time outside of work. Some contracts restrict a Provider's ability to Moonlight, be a paid speaker, accept honoraria or pursue outside research interests. If you are a researcher or entrepreneur it is especially important to understand your future employer's policy on who would own any intellectual property that you may develop.
An employment contract compensation model or schedule should be crystal clear. Be sure that all agreed upon terms of compensation are recorded in the final contract. You may have agreed to terms presented at the interview that have been omitted from the final contract. It is also important to stipulate that you require access to all the agreed upon documentation and data that will be used to calculate your compensation. This ensures that both parties are evaluating the same data when making calculations.
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