Doctors beware: 3 things to consider before signing that employment contract

Physicians should be aware of common contract loopholes to save themselves potential trouble down the road if an opportunity ends up being too good to be true.

After a long search, you’ve got the job you want in the hospital of your dreams. Before signing on the dotted line, warns an article in Medscape, check the fine print over carefully. Physicians often wind up in situations they could have avoided if they had taken the time to read the plain language of their contract, according to Jon Appino of Contract Diagnostics, a consulting company in Kansas City, Missouri. “The employer’s and the employee’s expectations have to be clearly spelled out, with no room for guesswork,” he advises.

The article runs down some of the most common pitfalls found in physician contracts:

  • Although physician salaries have remained high in general, the introduction of benchmarks used to determine compensation, particularly relative value units, can make the numbers look a lot better than what eventually gets reflected in a paycheck. Appino suggests investigating bonus calculations to get a clear idea of how much control physicians actually have over the metrics that determine their quality scores governing their pay calculations.
  • Take extra care to read and understand the potential ramifications of any noncompete clauses. Some hospital systems’ clauses lately have pushed the boundaries of reasonability, sometimes necessitating a costly relocation to another region depending on the boundaries of the noncompete.
  • Pay attention to the details of call coverage as the contract lays them out. “Part-time employment does not necessarily translate into a part-time call schedule,” warns Appino.