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Negotiating contracts for medical professionals

Negotiations may determine the professional and, in many ways, the personal lives of medical professionals for many years. For this reason, preparation is required before negotiating employment contracts for medical professionals.

First, professionals should determine whether they want to work solo, in a partnership, or in a small or employer practice. Whether the practice style is private, hospital-owned, or urgent care is another important consideration.

Compensation may be set on the regional market and salaries for other physicians with comparable skills and experience in the area. Salary surveys may be utilized to obtain information on compensation in the region to help spur negotiations.

Compensation many not always be negotiable, but other details may be up for discussion. These include office and call hours, administrative duties, payment for continuing medical education, and prioritizing clinical, professional and personal needs.

The style, size, and location of the practice may provide flexibility with regard to compensation. Rural practices, for example, have more difficulty recruiting and may be more willing to negotiate contract terms.

Contracts should govern key matters. These include admitting privileges, whether the work is full or part-time, employment conditions, length of employment and contract renewal, and whether compensation is comprised of a base, salary, percentage of collections, and/or bonuses. Other compensation issues pertain to fringe benefits such as health and life insurance, retirement, paid time off, and the type and payment of malpractice insurance. On-call, prescription refills, unassigned emergency room duties, and other scheduling matters need to be addressed, too.

Other vital components include issues addressing termination, such as whether the employment is at will or termination must be for cause. Noncompetition and non-solicitation clauses should also be negotiated as needed. The parties may also want to address any opportunities for partnership or co-ownership, educational loan forgiveness, moving expenses, and forgiveness of guarantees.

Negotiations and consideration of job offers should not be handled alone. An attorney can help negotiate these contracts to ensure that the party in question is entering into a fair and favorable agreement.

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