5 Attorney-Approved Strategies for Physicians Looking to Avoid Glaring Legal Mistakes

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After four years of undergrad, four years of medical school, and at least three years of residency, you finally land your dream job of becoming a physician. Now, all you have to do to begin working is to sign a physician contract with your new employer. This contract between you and your employer sets forth your work duties, requirements, benefits, and most importantly, your salary. This contract is essential, and the physician contract review is a vital step you need to complete before signing the contract. 

Act Strategically When Reviewing A Physician Contract

Everything that you and your employer agreed on needs to be in writing to be enforced. If the specific stipulations that you both agreed on are not written in the contract, they are not legally binding. When reviewing your physician contract, always read the entire contract to ensure that all stipulations and salary agreements match what you and your employer have already agreed on. 

Five Strategies for Reviewing a Physician Contract

1Get Everything in Writing

No matter how smooth the negotiations went or how friendly your employer is, it is imperative that all of the terms you agreed on are in writing and included in the contract. Having everything in writing significantly reduces the potential for mistakes or misunderstandings. Once the contract is signed, it is valid, and any stipulations that weren’t included may not be honored.

2Understand Your Work Description 

One of the first things to check when signing your contract is the work description. This may seem like a mundane task, but if you have just finished your residency in a specialized field and are hoping to continue in that field, it is crucial that your job description matches that specialty. For instance, if you have just finished specializing in ophthalmology, it’s vital that your job description matches this and not be in another area such as gynecology, which you haven’t studied since your first month in residency.

In addition to working in a different specialization, your job description may include tasks you are uncomfortable with or do not wish to perform. Unless you object to these tasks before signing the contract, you will be required to complete the tasks. Failure to perform these tasks is considered a form of breaking the contract’s terms, and your employer can fire you. 

3Know Whether Your Compensation is Fixed or Variable 

There are two forms of compensation that physician contracts have: fixed or variable. Fixed compensation is a set salary that is not dependent on a physician’s performance or the number of patients they see. Whereas variable compensation uses variables such as experience, the number of patients seen, and the physician’s overall performance to determine how much the physician will be paid. 

4Know the Value of Your Employer’s Work Benefits 

The benefits your work offers can substantially add to your base compensation. Learn what benefits are included in your contract and before you sign the contract, be sure you know what benefits aren’t offered and what you will need to cover. 

Here are typical examples of benefits you may want to include in your physician contract: 

  • Health Insurance
  • Paid Time Off
  • Payment of Licensing Fees
  • Continuing Education Requirements
  • Malpractice Insurance
  • Student Loan Payment 

5Consult an Expert 

While hiring a lawyer to review your contract may seem like an unneeded expense, the consequences of signing a long-term contract that you don’t understand are far more expensive and possibly detrimental to your career. An experienced attorney can walk you through your contract to ensure that you know the requirements and that it is fair and matches the stipulations that you and your employer agreed on. 

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