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Rating medical employment contracts

The national shortage of physicians may give them added negotiation powers. But, job applicants should be prepared to carefully review important terms and inducements in employment contracts for medical professionals.

The need for doctors in special areas has increased the demand for them. This competition for medical services has added new benefits, bonuses and other inducements to employment contracts.

The base salary is the major part of these agreements. Salary is often combined with a production bonus formula comprised of compliance with treatment protocols or patient satisfaction surveys. If these are clearly set forth, a doctor may estimate their earning range during a contract period.

Contracts may also have other financial inducements. Hospitals, medical groups, and community health centers may offer a signing bonus. Employers may be willing to negotiate these bonuses, especially if the doctor is leaving an established practice or relocating.

Other benefits include relocation allowances, which have averaged $10,000 and are uniform across medical specialties. Continuing education allowances are sometimes offered with five days for courses offered annually.

Standard employee benefits include health insurance, professional malpractice insurance and 401(k) and other retirement plans. Contracts, especially in rural and medically-underserved areas, often have educational loan forgiveness if a physician agrees to make a commitment to practice for a specified time in that area.

A doctor may also seek other reasonable terms unique to their needs, such as severance agreements. An attorney should help review these agreements and recommend terms. They can help assure that a contract is fair and meets their professional and financial requirements.

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