Tips for Physicians with their Employment Contracts

July 10, 2013

Authored by: Samir Dahman

Physicians are one of the few fields where employees still have lengthy complicated employment contracts.  They are one of the few remaining types of employees who are not at-will employees.  It is common for people to be overwhelmed by any legal document, and this is especially true when it comes to comprehending employment contracts for doctors. Understanding the job obligations, rights and responsibilities presented in such a contract are vital for long-term happiness and satisfaction in all physicians’ careers.

If you are a doctor looking at or getting ready to sign an employment contract, here are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • Seek help from a legal professional. As a physician, no one doubts your intelligence.  Asking a lawyer for assistance in understanding the terms and conditions of your employment contract assures you won’t get trapped by legal language unfamiliar to you.
  • Take an in-depth look at the employer. Before getting caught up completely in the employment contract and job offer, make sure your employer and employment situation have the reputation and credentials you are looking for as well.
  • Find legal counsel before you start contract negotiations. This will save time and money in helping you get everything you want from your own terms of employment.
  • Put everything in writing. Do not trust verbal promises about pay increases or other stipulations from the employer; have your lawyer put everything in the legally binding employment contract.
  • Pay sufficient attention to the specific terms of the contract. Having a lawyer explain ambiguous language to you will help you understand specific details such as: the years your contract runs, provisions for salary increases, conditions for renewal, and how and when you can be terminated among many other things.
  • Review the implications of your covenant not to compete clause. Perhaps one of the biggest things that plagues physicians job choice, have your lawyer negotiate terms you can live with if you decide to leave your job at any time.
  • Make sure you are fully covered for malpractice provisions. Physician’s personal resources and state law requirements should all be fully covered.
  • Don’t sign if your contract contains a one-sided termination agreement. Look carefully at what can cause termination and do not sign an employment contact if your employer can terminate it at will; otherwise moving cities, uprooting family and putting long term plans at risk is not worth it.
  • Make sure your contract specifies your specific job duties and responsibilities. These things should be clearly laid out in your contract so you don’t think that you are signing on to do less or more than what will be expected; further compensation negotiations can be made around these, once settled, terms.
  • Clarify your compensation and incentive plans. Your flexible compensation should rely on completing pre-approved objectives that cannot be changed by your employer to affect your salary and benefits.

If you are a doctor and have questions about your employment contract, please contact the experienced attorneys at KJK for assistance.