When accepting a new opportunity or position, you need to understand the terms of what’s being offered to you, to ensure that it makes sense for your professional goals, personal goals and your lifestyle. The following tips can help you when negotiating a physician contract that fits your needs and lifestyle.
The first thing to remember is that certain things are negotiable and it’s important to know, going into a position, what is most important to you. Before meeting with your future partner or employer, consider the parts of the contract that you have questions about. Typically, the items that are most negotiated include salary, paid time off, and signing bonuses or stipends. Decide what is most important in your life: compensation, flexible hours, vacation time or a fast-paced, challenging work environment. An employment attorney, senior physician you trust, and even a recruiter that is familiar with contracts can help guide you through the process and sift through the contract language.
Know How Much You Want to Get Paid
Average physician compensation ranges are readily available through internet surveys, and through speaking with recruiters and other physicians in your specialty. New physicians, especially, should be aware of salary ranges in their specialty in order to more accurately negotiate compensation. In addition, negotiating a base salary in the first year or two will ensure you receive consistent pay while in the beginning stages of your career. If incentives are offered, read the fine print to gain clarification on how you would qualify to earn incentives and how they are calculated.
Know the Benefits
In addition to health insurance coverage, make sure your contract discusses other benefits such as paid time off, retirement savings, assistance with licensing fees, continuing medical education, relocation compensation and malpractice insurance. Make sure these pieces fit in with your lifestyle and personal goals. These items may be negotiable except for health, dental and vision insurance as these are normally fixed.
Know Your Call and Coverage Obligations
All call and coverage obligations should be clearly spelled out in your contract and discussed during the interviews and negotiations. Make sure the contract items remain consistent with what was discussed.
Common Questions to Ask
- How is the compensation structured? And are there any additional incentives involved?
- What benefits are offered? Health, dental, vision? Malpractice insurance?
- Is there a non-compete? If so, what are the terms?
- Are you allowed to work outside of the practice at all?
- What are the specific duties, requirements, expectations?
Know the Terms of the Non-Compete
Prior to taking a position, you should clarify whether or not you’ll be able to practice in the same geographic area should you change employers. Some non-compete restrictions last up to two years, according to Link Capital.
You may need to give up some things that are a lower priority in order to get what you truly want. Directly address any concerns you may have about the contract with your future employer. And remember: it never hurts to ask!