PracticeLink Magazine

FALL 2014

The career development quarterly for physicians of all specialties, PracticeLink Magazine provides readers with feature articles, compensation stats, helpful job search tips—as well as recruitment ads from organizations across the U.S.

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Page 64 of 103

FALL 2014 | 65 that determine the fairness in an employment contract: • How much time off is allocated? • How much call per month is required? • How long are the days? • How equitable is the case distribution system? • Is this contract good for your family? Depending upon the employer, salary nego- tiation may not be possible. Compensation is often constricted by fair market value, espe- cially when dealing with a hospital. "When you have a group…that has 600+ doctors, [the compensation] is similar to others and they typically do not negotiate," explains Krablin. 8 Restrictive covenants Much like non-compete clauses that pharmacy sales representatives work under, physicians also have their own version: the "restrictive covenant." The restrictive covenant is a binding agreement that protects the employer from fnancial loss when you leave. The employer will state not only the time period of that restriction, but also include a geographical area included in the restriction. If not evaluated and fairly negotiated, restrictive cove- nants can place undue hardship upon your family and seriously alter the course of your career. Don't assume that non-competes or restrictive covenants are unenforceable in a court of law. As Hursh says, "It isn't whether or not the employer will win; it's about whether you will ultimately be hirable by another employer." Even if the signed document is not enforceable, your potential employer will view you as a legal risk and likely choose a less risky candidate without all the legal baggage. In that regard, an attorney can be a valuable asset. An attorney can ensure you know if the geographic area and timeframe restrictions are reasonable, and point out any non-compete pitfalls. They can also advise you on how to negotiate reductions in timeframe or geographical area for the restrictive covenant, or propose a potential "buyout." 8 Call coverage Through the years, physician attitudes have changed about call coverage and how it impacts quality of life. More and more, new doctors are negotiating this specifc aspect of the contract. Author Todd says she has seen a change in the articula- tion used by newer physicians to describe medical careers. Continued FALL 2014 | 65 Do "standard" contracts need professional review? Many consider physician contracts with hospital systems or large employers to be "standard." Physicians often redefne these as "non-negotiable" contracts and may think there's no point in having them professionally reviewed. Though this may seem reasonable on the surface, not having these documents looked at by a trained eye can be a big (and potentially costly) mistake. Protect your investment You've spent a large amount of money on your training and have the potential to earn millions of dollars over the course of your career. Your $250,000 training investment and your earning power alone should provide enough motivation to have your contract reviewed. There is just too much on the fnancial table not to spend a few hundred dollars. What's left out? It is often not what a contract says, but instead what it doesn't say that is the problem. What is left out? Is your location specifcally defned? Is your schedule in detail? Do you have any control? When and how is your incentive compensation paid? What are the details of the beneft plans (including malpractice insurance)? These are often times not in the contract, and may not be negotiable, but with the right education around the contract, you will know what questions to ask the employer so your expectations are clear. Do you know all the clauses? It is important to know exactly what you are signing. How can you quit? What do all the non-clinical terms mean? What type of notice do you have in various circumstances? Understanding what happens in defned situations can prevent a surprise or disagreement later on with the employer. All physician contracts need to be reviewed. Many do not need an hourly attorney to review them at a cost of thousands of dollars, but do spend a few hundred dollars to understand the document and protect one of the best investments you'll ever make. n Jon Appino ( is the principal at Contract Diagnostics, a national frm dedicated to educating physicians around employment contracts.

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