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Physician Contracting 101 – Rickard & Associates


Physician contracts are often complicated and have unique terms. We help our clients understand the terms and negotiate their contracts.

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Many of our clients are physicians who are negotiating or renegotiating their employment contracts with their employers. Sometimes these are with health systems, hospitals, or small physician offices.

We also have clients come to us with issues after they negotiated their own contracts.

Physician contracts are unique, as they have standard employment terms, healthcare terms, and a variety of terms from the employer related to the employer, the specialty, productivity and more.

When reviewing your physician contract, make sure that you fully understand the following:

  1. Termination provisions. How can your employer terminate your agreement and how much notice are you entitled to? 90 days? more? It is essential that you know how you can be terminated and what other provisions are then invoked. If you are terminated, does that trigger repayment or non-compete provisions? Make sure you fully understand all potential consequences of termination.
  2. Breach provisions. Some physician contracts spell out a variety of breach remedies that are in addition to the remedies under the law. We have seen some extreme remedies, such as specific performance and paying liquidated damages. It is essential that you know of any potential remedies that they have.
  3. Repayment provisions. Upon expiration or termination of the agreement, are you required to repay anything? Sometimes there are requirements to repay moving bonuses, signing bonuses, etc. This could be a large amount that is due very quickly. Make sure that you know and plan for any potential repayments.
  4. Non-compete provisions. We always caution physicians against entering into agreements with non-compete provisions. While this isn’t always possible, non-compete provisions can impact your ability to work in the future. You need to know what triggers a non-compete, if there is anything you can do to work around the non-compete, and how broad the non-compete is.
  5. Compensation provisions. Compensation is often the most important provision for our clients. However, these sections are often muddled and confusing. Sometimes contracts are even silent as to how compensation will be determined in future years of the contract. Other physician contracts have productivity based compensation, which can be concerning as it leaves a lot of discretion to the employer. We recommend getting a guaranteed compensation amount for as long as possible, depending on your circumstances.

And more.

We have seen a trend of physician contracts becoming more and more complex and burdensome on the physicians.

It is essential that you negotiate your contract fully before you start work and that you fully understand your agreement.

We recommend working with an experienced healthcare attorney so that you do not tarnish your relationship with the employer and so that you are made aware of any potential pitfalls.

If you need help reviewing or negotiating your physician agreement, we can help. Contact Rickard & Associates today.

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