Is it necessary to have my physician employment contract reviewed?

As a healthcare attorney representing physicians across the country earning my livelihood, in part, reviewing and negotiating physician employment contracts, the inconvenient truth is “maybe not.”  The truth of the matter is not all physician employment contracts warrant paying even a relatively nominal fee to be reviewed by an attorney; this is because unless the base line terms such as general geographic location and general description of duties (e.g. outpatient versus inpatient) are acceptable it is premature to pay to have the physician employment contract reviewed. Another important factor is whether a physician can see himself or herself having meaningful professional relationships with other providers in the practice (i.e. genuinely getting along with other, more senior physicians in the practice , if not, then I would advise declining the offer and continuing your search for a viable employment opportunity. Particularly true in the case of employment by a solo physician, if you know that you and the employing physician do not share the same values or philosophy with respect to patient care, I would advise politely declining the offer of employment and pursuing other employment opportunities.

As opposed to joining a practice with a short term view, if a physician needs immediate income, I would suggest exploring locum tenens options as you consider viable long term employment opportunities. If you join one employer but shortly thereafter begin interviewing with other potential employers, you should be prepared to address questions regarding your decision to leave your current employer. While early on in a physician’s career, it is expected the physician will change employers once or twice, it is viewed unfavorably if it becomes a pattern however.

If a physician is accepting an offer of employment intending to later resign, the physician should strongly consider retaining an attorney to review the employment contract to ensure post employment covenants, such as a non-compete, do not preclude or curtail future opportunities.  Similarly, if a physician is accepting an offer of employment intending to remain with the employer long term, and perhaps later obtain an equity interest in the practice, the physician should certainly have the employment contract reviewed to ensure the viability of becoming shareholder or partner in the practice. However, if a physician receives an employment contract with basic terms which are completely unacceptable, such as compensation, call schedule, paid time off, and practice location, rather than having the contract reviewed, the physician should first evaluate whether the opportunity has the potential to be a good fit, and if not, simply decline the offer.

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