There are often two reasons a physician will switch positions. The first is that a recruiter or hiring employer has reached out to make a case for their opportunity – and it was compelling. The second reason is that it’s time for a change – whether to the present work culture, to practice in another geographical location or something else.
Regardless, if you’re about to make a transition to a new position at a new facility, there are some details you’ll want to account for and steps you’ll want to take to ensure it’s as smooth as possible.
- Read the fine print
Before taking any action, the first thing you’ll want to do is assess your current contract.
When does it expire? Does it include a noncompete clause or restrictive covenant? If you’re leaving after your contract ends, you won’t have to worry about the latter. However, if you’re aiming to make this change before your contract is complete, you’ll want to ensure you’re abiding by these agreements for legal reasons and to avoid returning some or all of your sign-on bonus.
You’ll also want to check the non-solicitation clause you may have signed within your contract. This is used by your current employer to ensure you’re not attempting to take your patients with you when you leave – and it’s especially important to stick to it when planning the announcement of your departure.
- Communicate with your employer and patients
After you’ve determined your exit strategy doesn’t conflict with your employment agreement, you’ll want to make your employer aware of your change as soon as possible. When talking with your employer, you’ll also want to discuss how to share the information with your patients.
This is important because it gives your employer the opportunity to find coverage and begin their efforts to fill your position.
During this time, you’ll also want to consider your malpractice insurance, or tail coverage. Most often, malpractice claims are not made until years after the alleged occurrence, so if you have claims-made coverage and you switch insurance carriers with your new practice, you may have a gap. To address this, you can work with your new employer to ensure that “nose coverage,” or protections against prior acts, is offered by your new carrier.
- Negotiate the best offer
If you’ve found a position that has motivated you for change, you’re going to want to be thorough when assessing your new contract. The good news is you’ve done this before, so it should feel pretty similar to how you’ve approached contract review in the past.
You should plan to discuss common details typically included within a physician contract with the assistance of a specialized attorney. Some of the key topics you’ll want to cover are:
- Job expectations and requirements
- Call schedule
- Compensation, bonuses and salary structure
- Notices of termination
- Indemnification, Nonsolicitation and Opt-Out Clauses, Noncompete/Restrictive Covenants
- Malpractice insurance
- Update your license and credentials
This step is key if your career change requires you to move across state lines. Before you can begin work, you’ll need to renew your licenses and credentials for the state in which you’ll be practicing.
Keep in mind the more experience you have, the more paperwork and steps there will be to complete, so you’ll want to get started as soon as possible. Requirements will also differ depending on the state, employer and facility.
Don’t hesitate to ask your new employer for guidance as it can help mitigate delays on your end. They will be especially helpful in providing the information you need to get the process moving quickly.
- Prepare for the new position – and all that comes with it
There’s a lot more impacted by a career shift than just your position. You’ll likely be adjusting to a different facility, a different work culture with different peers and patients and potentially a different community too.
If you’re moving to a new or unfamiliar geographical location, you’ll want to factor in the time to explore living arrangements – which can take some research. You’ll also want to ensure there’s ample opportunity for your spouse to find career options and for your children (if you have them) to find a school district that will help them thrive.
Use online guides to help you explore or visit the area – if you have the opportunity – so you can best determine where you want to be situated. You can also ask your new employer about relocation assistance and resources to help you know where to start when seeking these accommodations. Their goal will be to make your transition as swift and seamless as possible.