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October 19, 2020

How to make your next contract discussion easier

With today’s high demand for qualified physicians, you want to take every opportunity to not only attract top candidates, but to also streamline the offer process. One of the best routes to a smooth finish is to be ready with answers to questions your candidates may raise. A common area of discussion is the employment contract; here’s a quick run-down on some key sections you’ll want to be ready to discuss.
What kind of insurance is offered?
Most candidates understand the need for malpractice insurance, but newer physicians might not realize the difference between occurrence-based or claims-made policies. Be ready to discuss both, and highlight which you’re offering. With a claims-made policy, discuss the need for an extended reporting endorsement - aka tail insurance. Key pieces of information include: who pays, where the money draws from, and if the burden of cost varies based on the details surrounding termination.
Any strings attached?
A bonus can be a great way to solidify the interest of an in-demand candidate and to help ensure their commitment. Sign-on bonuses, money toward education expenses, relocation bonuses - every new physician is pleased to see a little extra cash added to a contract.
If a bonus is something you’ll be pulling out of your bag, be ready to explain the terms. Is it being offered in increments, or all at once? Will it be delivered prior to their start date, or following a set period of employment? In the former case, do they have to be employed a set number of days in order to keep 100 percent? What are the payback provisions?
What learning opportunities do you offer?
A selling point to a candidate weighing different offers could be the opportunity to continue refining their skills. In addition to details about Cme coverage - both in terms of time used and cash available - describe other learning possibilities, ideally, those which other physicians have taken advantage.
What is the non-compete clause?
Physicians with young families or other ties to a region may wish to negotiate the restrictive covenant. Know what adjustments your organization would be willing to make. Not all states equally enforce restrictive covenants, but it’s best to remind the candidate that they’re legally obligated to uphold any signed agreement.

Be prepared to talk about these key sections to help your candidate evaluate their contract offer.
How is this contract terminated?
This may seem like an obvious point, but ensure the contract’s duration is understood - one year, automatic renewal or indefinite - as well as the expected termination procedure, including the required number of days’ notice, terms of termination, and means of relaying the news to patients.
Also explain what happens to the physician’s contract in the case of merger, acquisition, or other change of ownership. Is the contract assignable or non-assignable?
What about benefits?
Relocation package, mentoring, retirement, family leave, support services - available benefits outside of compensation are common areas for discussion. Know what’s negotiable, and communicate it upfront. Don’t underestimate the importance of following up with answers in this area; sometimes a seemingly small issue can be the tipping point for the candidate.
A physician contract is a lengthy and complicated document, but from your seat on the other side of the table, you’re in a great position to help clarify the contents and convince your candidate to come on board.

Read PracticeLink articles by Debbie Swanson

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