Most of us fall short of making New Year’s resolutions.
The reason is simple: unrealistic goals. Negotiation or renegotiation of your physician contract is attainable. Your income is paramount to financial freedom, job satisfaction, and avoiding burnout risk and stress.
Hospital or practice employment has increased among physicians. The motivations include financial stability, lower risk, steering clear of managing employees, running a business, and negotiating rates with insurers.
What do physicians look for in a contract?
Physicians focus on the number of zeros in the compensation section of the contract first. Not that monthly salary is not essential, but many other factors must be considered.
Physicians should do their due diligence. Hire an expert physician contract consulting company. Get legal advice explaining the legalese and work with the consulting company.
Protect your interests. Employment and contract law is highly specialized. Seek out the best advice. For instance, you should not go to an orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulders if you have knee problems.
What should physicians look for in a contract?
There are below-the-radar issues that physicians should look for in a contract. These can be more important than salary or time off.
1. What are your duties and responsibilities? When reviewing your past year and thinking about the coming New Year, did your expectations of the job match the contract’s duties and responsibilities? If not, it may be time to consider opening up the discussion about how the contract can better suit your needs.
Remember, lawyers write physician contracts for hospitals and health care systems, not physicians. These lawyers are not trying to bamboozle you; they are given standard information and are hired to represent their client, not you.
The New Year may be the time to discuss the locations, hours, and overnight and weekend calls. If you have fellowship training in a particular specialty and you are not getting to see the patients you were trained to take care of, then it is time to raise your hand and change the schedule.
Also, if you are working outside the scope of your contract duties, these need to be not only included in your re-negotiated contract, but the hours and additional compensation need to be included.
2. There is no such thing as non-negotiable. It is easier for hospitals to standardize employee contracts and rules. It avoids conflict while making the process the same as everyone–theoretically.
The reality is that physicians are in short supply, and rocking the boat is allowed and should be encouraged. If you don’t ask, you have a 100 percent chance of not getting it. Ensure you understand your malpractice coverage and ask questions if anything is unclear. Don’t forget disability insurance should be own occupation, meaning coverage if you can’t perform the duties of what you were trained to do.
Compensation options in 2024
Don’t dwell on the first or second year of a contract, think long-term, but always consider the following:
- Bonus structure (compensation incentives)
- Formula-based compensation
- Percentage-based compensation
- Moving or relocation expenses
- Student loan forgiveness
- Signing bonus
These compensation options hold over for the New Year.
Tips for 2024 negotiations
Physician non-compete provisions. These affect almost half of all physicians, but times are changing. Concerns about non-competes were highlighted during the pandemic and are becoming increasingly worrisome. The AMA, among others, including the Federal Government, are working toward changes.
- Don’t accept the job offer if the non-compete seems too limited in scope and duration.
- Try to negotiate the terms or choose a job in a location where non-competes are unenforceable.
Negotiation of your contract is not personal; it’s business.
- Consider your happiness. Does it match your employers? The hospital may be delighted you are there, but you feel you are being taken advantage of. If so, speak up.
- Happiness depends on your expectations, not just how much money you make.
- In the New Year, be introspective about your values and priorities.
- Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask to negotiate with clear metrics.
- Know what is fair. Are you getting a reasonable amount of vacation time, CME time and funding, access to patients, or traveling to locations far away that waste time?
Drew Sutton brings his extensive expertise to Contract Diagnostics as a guest writer and advisor. With a wealth of knowledge gained from his journey in the medical field, he comprehends the nuances of physician contracts and compensation. Dr. Sutton shares theoretical insights and practical lessons from his hands-on experience. Discover more of Dr. Sutton’s perspectives on physician compensation by exploring the Contract Diagnostics blog or connecting on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
The Contract Diagnostics team offers comprehensive consulting services tailored to physicians and their families, addressing employment contracts and compensation structures. Our expertise spans contract physician compensation, schedules, benefits, and more.
Our mission is to establish a central resource where physicians can access information, consulting, and coaching to navigate the intricacies of employment contracts and compensation structures, ensuring equitable remuneration.
Questions? Feel free to reach out to us via our website or at 888-574-5526.