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What are the key provisions to watch out for in my first contract after residency/fellowship?

Provided by: Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq.
 January 24, 2017

Question:

Hi Jennifer,
 
I am finishing residency and just received my first offer and contract. What should I watch out for and do I need to have my contract reviewed? 
 
Thanks, 
Dr. O


Answer: 
 
Perfect time of year for this question.  To start with the latter, yes you need it reviewed.  To answer the former, there are so many areas a contract can harm you or obligate you.  Some key ways - allowing an employer broad control over where you will be working and what hours - including broad call parameters. Compensation can be muddled with unfavorable terms and poorly drafted definitions.  Fees can be hidden throughout - in the benefits (or lack thereof), in the insurance provisions, in moving provisions, in sign on bonus provisions, etc etc.  Responsibilities can be pushed on you without your real understanding - for instance, site management, administrator management, billing and coding responsibilities.  Restrictive covenant is a frame of art most are familiar with - but there are likely several restrictive covenants you have to be wary of - your non compete - the one you know - restricting you from working in a range and for a time frame during or after your employment, a non solicit prohibiting you from taking patients or employees or more, confidentiality provisions, a non disparage provision. 

In addition to the above, there may be conditions precedent to your employment we want qualified or dispatched with, or clarifications made to duties or compensation. There may be requirements you immediately terminate or surrender privileges upon termination - which is very harsh. 

Even if the potential employer is not willing to negotiate - the contract process - review and potential assistance with negotiation - is all part of the onboarding process and allows you to better know the opportunity, yourself and the employer.  Understand the terms, draw the lines, don't compromise more than your are comfortable, stay at the job long terms, maybe.  Those are the hopes. 

For a review, contact me.  We charge a flat rate for resident/fellow reviews (only!) of $500.  Negotiation fee is separate and on a time basis. 

For my employers out there - times have changes and so have the contracts our residents and fellows are receiving - be sure we update your contracts before you start the hiring process. 

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