The recruitment process doesn’t end after interviews and site visits. One of the most important aspects of recruitment is the offer or employment contract. What you outline in your offer can not only cause a physician to choose your organization, but it can also lead them to seek better offers elsewhere.
You want your contract and its components to be just as attractive as your job postings and facilities to acquire and retain quality candidates and hires. To provide the best offer, the American College of Physicians suggests employment contracts contain the following parts:
Specialty, location and experience play a part in the physician’s salary. After the first year of practice, it is rare for a physician to receive only that amount, so you want to ensure the organization or practice’s method for incentive pay and overall compensation is clear and attractive to the candidate.
One thing candidates look at when comparing offers is salary and bonus structure. In order to remain competitive, it is important to meet the industry average or be slightly above average when factoring the overall compensation package.
If your organization is in a rural area, you could offer a signing bonus to differentiate you from competition in the area. You should also note the difference in cost of living when your salary or incentives are lower than other regions of the country.
A basic benefits package can include health, dental, vision and malpractice insurance coverage. It is also common to provide professional membership dues, reimbursement for continuing medical education, vacation and sick leave, retirement savings plans and disability insurance. A majority of organizations will pay a portion of or all professional dues and medical licensure fees and allow time off for CME activities.
Many physicians are now looking for flexible work schedules and better work-life balance, which is a great benefit to provide and will set your organization apart from others. Maternity and family leave will also help the candidate feel valued and appreciated and improve retention.
Some organizations will offer a sabbatical. These leaves are usually available after a few years of service and can last up to one month or as long as a year. Compensation during that time can be a percentage of the physician’s salary or they could continue to receive their full salary and benefits while on sabbatical.
When recruiting physicians, think about adding fixed moving allowances or reimbursement for a percentage - or all - of a hire’s relocation expenses on top of all the other benefits contained in your offer.
Anything required from the candidate should be listed in their contract. These requirements might include:
Certain specialties will require an estimated number and type of procedures required.
If you are extending an offer for a part-time position, you will want to lay out the weekly hours; how compensation is calculated for part-time work; office policies and procedures; call outside of work hours; provided support staff; termination clause; and negotiated changes to the benefit package.
Each contract will include the start date and end date of employment. When the end date approaches, a new contract will need to be negotiated.
Contracts can be extended with the same details, but many physicians and organizations will review and negotiate before extending, so you will want to note the specific length and term of the contract.
To prohibit a candidate from seeking employment with competitors, many organizations outline a non-compete clause. These are only valid for a specific amount of time and within so many miles of their current practice.
You can also accompany the non-compete clause with a non-solicitation clause to keep the physicians from taking patients, colleagues and contracts from their current practice.
Physicians are often advised to limit the restrictions to a radius of a few miles and no more than a one- to two-year duration, so keep that in mind when including a non-compete, and also address resolutions if a physician violates the clause.
Work Outside Practice
Some physicians will do research, teach, consult or perform other income-earning activities outside of their daily practice. The contract should state the nature of work outside the office that is allowed and whether any income from it is private or part of the practice income.
Most offers include information on termination and whether the organization has termination with or without cause. Some practices have severance pay depending on the circumstances of termination.
Gap or Tail Insurance
Many organizations will cover malpractice insurance for their employees. Some might even insure employees for a set amount of time after employment.
You want to include a portion in your offer about whether your practice will cover the candidate after they leave or if they will need to purchase tail insurance, so they are still covered against claims after moving to another practice.
Ownership or Partnership
If there is an opportunity for ownership or partnership, you will want to note it. The terms of buy-in can be detailed in a separate contract, but you might want to make a mention of it in the offer.
The candidate can sign the agreement when ownership occurs, but you can still include some of the details such as how the physician will be considered or if they will automatically receive partnership, how long it will take to become a partner and how they receive ownership of the practice.
If partnership is not applicable, you can include terms that could be revisited at a later date.
Acquisition, Consolidation or Merger
In your contract, you might want to consider adding a section about what would happen if the practice is acquired by another company, consolidated or part of a merger.
If the offer with the hire is assignable, the physician can continue with the new practice or organization with no change to their contract. If you write it as non-assignable, the physician is no longer obligated to continue with the practice but can negotiate a new contract if they want to stay.
While it hasn’t been common to include emergency plans in contracts, we’ve seen unprecedented circumstances can arise. It may be a good idea to write in a section that outlines protocols in the event of epidemics, pandemics or natural disasters. Some physicians may need to relocate to highly impacted areas, help in other departments or change their shifts and hours.
No one can predict the future, but you can note possible outcomes in urgent and unique situations.
The physician contract continues to differentiate you from other organizations and practices, so you want to put thought into the offer and cover all potential situations during a hire’s employment. The details included in the contract will attract and retain quality candidates.