Whether you are an experienced physician or you are just out of residency, you need to know how to negotiate a proper employment contract.
Unfortunately, many physicians make serious mistakes when negotiating the terms of their employment, thereby putting themselves in a vulnerable position.
Negotiating a physician employment contract is a deeply complex process. To protect your legal rights and financial interests, it is highly recommended that you work with a skilled professional.
In this article, our physician contract attorneys offer the top physician contract negotiation tips that you need to know.
Before you sign that physician employment contract...
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1. Hire an Experienced Physician Contract Attorney
In far too many cases, physicians end up with unfavorable terms in their contract because they failed to consult with an attorney before negotiating and signing their employment agreement. It is important to remember that physician contracts are complicated. Employers always work with legal counsel in negotiating and structuring these agreements. There is no reason to go through this alone; you should have your own legal professional by your side.
2. Do Not Wait Too Long to Seek Legal Guidance
Current or prospective physicians who are considering accepting a position with a new employer should speak to a physician contract lawyer immediately before starting any negotiations. Your legal advocate will be able to help you reach an agreement that has the best possible terms for your specific interests and needs. While an employment attorney can also be helpful in the contract review stage, the earlier you get legal counsel involved in your case, the better your negotiating position will be.
3. Know Your Goals and Know the Market
When negotiating a physician employment contract, it is crucial that a medical professional understands their own value. To get full value and fair contract terms, you need to know your market. What contract terms are important to you? What other options are the available to you? With full information in mind, you can have the clarity you need to effectively work with an attorney who can negotiate a physician employment contract that is truly the best fit for your goals.
4. Know the Conditions of Your Employment
In negotiating a physician contract, it can be easy to let your focus drift to your compensation and benefits. To be sure, compensation and benefits are both important factors, and both deserve your attention. At the same time, you should not overlook other key issues. Be sure to review the specific terms of your employment. You have the right to negotiate these terms as well. Everything from emergency room hours and appointment times to office responsibilities and the availability of support staff are valid issues worth consideration and negotiation.
5. Be Sure to Get Everything in Writing
Under Texas law, employers can be held to verbal promises. However, enforcing an oral contract is far more challenging that enforcing a clear, well-drafted written agreement. If certain contract terms are important to you, then you need to get those terms in writing. The best way to avoid disputes and protect your best interests is to have a carefully structured, written agreement that has been negotiated and reviewed by your physician contract attorney. Do not rely on verbal statements.
6. An Offer Letter is Not Finalized
In many cases, physicians will receive an offer letter from a prospective future employer relatively late in the negotiation and application process. No matter how late you receive an offer letter, please remember that an offer letter is not final. Until you sign an agreement, you still have the legal right to negotiate the specific terms of the contract. If you have received an offer letter, and it requires a response within a relatively short period of time, you should consult with an experienced physician contract review attorney immediately. You may still be able to modify the terms of the deal.
7. Beware of Termination Clauses
Proper physician contract negotiation requires careful analysis and discussion of any termination clauses. A ‘great’ physician contract may not be very good at all if the employer can terminate the agreement at virtually any time and for virtually any reason, with limited notice. If you are moving yourself and your family to a new location, you need to be sure that the deal comes with a basic level of security.
8. Watch Out for Restrictive Covenants (Non-Compete Clauses)
Under Texas law, a non-compete clause can be enforced as long as it is properly structured. This is a big issue for physicians because employers will often try to include non-compete provisions in these types of employment contracts. Before you sign an agreement, please think very carefully about the non-compete terms. You never know how long you will end up working for this employer. Be sure that you are not agreeing to an overly restrictive non-compete agreement. In addition, if you are willing to sign a non-compete, you need to be sure that you are getting fair value for your sacrifice.
9. Think About Malpractice Insurance
When practicing medicine in the United States, you need to be sure that you have adequate legal and financial protection. You should negotiate a physician contract that offers sufficient medical malpractice coverage. Careful contract review is required to determine the precise extent of the malpractice insurance coverage that is being provided within the agreement. You do not want to leave yourself exposed.
10. Know Your Bonus Terms
Before signing the agreement, you should have a complete understanding of the compensation package being offered in your physician employment contract. Among other things, this means understanding the bonus terms. You do not have to accept the terms proposed by the employer. In many cases, physician contract attorneys can negotiate more favorable bonus terms for their clients.
Contact Our Dallas, TX Physician Contract Attorneys Today
At Wood Edwards LLP, our Texas employment law lawyers have extensive experience negotiating physician contracts. To get immediate assistance from our legal team, please contact our law firm today for a confidential case evaluation. From our office in Dallas, we represent clients throughout North Texas, including in Fort Worth, Arlington. Irving, and Plano.
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