How to Negotiate a Physician Employment Contract

Each year physicians lose substantial amounts of money due to poorly negotiated employment contracts.  In addition to the significant monetary loss, physicians can lose freedom, restrict their professional choices, and impair their careers by signing unfair and unduly restrictive employment agreements.  This loss adversely affects their families and family life as well.  The key to the rights of both the employer and employee are the terms of the written employment contract.  This means every word and every comma.  Physicians need to be exceptionally careful as to what terms are contained in their employment contracts.

We recommend the following when negotiating your physician employment contract:

  • Get an experienced lawyer involved as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you understand the contract and that there are no ambiguities that can be used against you.
  • Research your prospective employer before you start to negotiate.
  • Negotiate your responsibilities first, then talk compensation.
  • Negotiate fringe benefits before salary.
  • Negotiate tight language so that you cannot be cheated out of bonuses, profit sharing, and the like.
  • Protect your outside income (such as speaking and consulting fees).
  • Think long and hard before agreeing to a covenant not to compete.
  • Get as much medical malpractice protection, including a tail, as you can.

Steven Babitsky, Esq. is a negotiating consultant and founder of SEAK, Inc., an ACCME accredited continuing education company.  Steve has trained thousands of physicians.  He is  the co-author of The Physician’s Comprehensive Guide to Negotiating and Never Lose Again, Become a Top Negotiator by Asking the Right Questions and is the presenter on SEAK’s highly-acclaimed DVD negotiating training program for physicians, Negotiating Skills for Physicians.