Contract review is complicated. On one hand you’re excited you got a job offer, but on the other hand, your contract has a ton of details you don’t quite understand. Before you sign the dotted line, there are some things you should consider before jumping into your future.
Below are just a few things you should consider before accepting your new job:
- Consult an attorney. By consulting counsel, physicians have the ability of counsel to provide them with guidance, checklists, demands, proposals, counterproposals, strategies, and tactics to achieve better terms, compensation, and working conditions. When physicians consult with counsel early in the process, counsel can negotiate the contract with the employer’s lawyer, which will likely result in better terms and free the physicians from the uncomfortable task of negotiating with a future employer.
Check with our legal service provider, Welch Law Firm. They have been specializing in physician-based contracts for over 10 years and have handled thousands of physician contracts.
- Read the fine print. You know, those words that are in “quotes“, bold or underlined. What the contract says the term means is what counts, not what an average person thinks the term means. For example, a contract may state that the physician “may be terminated immediately for professional misconduct.” Since professional misconduct is in italics, it is a defined term. What will govern precisely why a physician can be terminated is the definition of this term in the “Definitions” section of the contract.
- Consider the non-compete clause.While healthcare noncompete agreements are illegal in many states, physicians who are subject to them need to recognize what they’re agreeing to. For instance, while agreeing not to practice within a 15-mile radius of the employer for a two-year period might not seem like a lot during the honeymoon period when the contract is signed. The law generally provides that unreasonable covenants not to compete will not be enforced. However, proving that a covenant not to compete is “unreasonable” requires litigation, time, and substantial legal expense. It is much better to negotiate, in advance, a reasonable covenant.
- Make sure you know all the details on your future employer. Prospective physician employees should perform “due diligence” on the employer before commencing employment contract negotiations. Sure, they may be known as the biggest and best, but are they right for you? Do they give maternity leave? Do they have benefits? Sure, the company may seem great to the naked eye, but make sure you know what the day-to-day would look like if you took a job there.
- A Letter of Intent is not a Contract. So, you dream hospital gave you a letter of intent. This letter only sets the framework of discussions, but the physician should not move based solely on a letter of intent. They must have the contract in hand.
Once you’ve considered all the important pieces of your contract, you are ready.