One of the most important parts of any physician job search comes right at the end of residency – when it’s time to negotiate the physician contract. However, this is the part many physicians are most uncomfortable with. Many young physicians mistakenly believe that they should not try to negotiate their contracts. Often they fear that negotiation could jeopardize a job offer. However, it is virtually unheard of for an employer to revoke an offer because a physician asks to negotiate the terms of the contract.
Once you receive an attractive offer, you may be tempted to just accept it, sign the contract and get to work. This mistake can lead to lost compensation, unsatisfactory working conditions, and missed opportunity that may have you looking for a new job in a few years. On the other hand, a good negotiation and careful review of the contract can make all the difference.
Once you understand that it is important to actually review and negotiate the contract terms, the next question is whether you should review and negotiate the contract terms yourself or hire an attorney to represent your interests. There may be a temptation to go it alone. This would be a mistake. What may appear to be straightforward text, most assuredly is not. Physician employment contracts are complex, have hidden landmines, cover detailed and often confusing subjects such as professional liability insurance and “tail” coverage,” have “claw-back” provisions that take back compensation and benefits under certain circumstances, and may or may not cover all of the subjects that need to be covered from the physician’s perspective (e.g., signing bonus, relocation expenses, student loan repayment, etc.). In other words, you cannot just react to what is set forth in the proposed contract, but rather need to be proactive in insuring that your needs and wants are covered in the contract.