key factors to understand in a physician contract

7 key factors to understand in a physician contract

A contract is a very binding tool. Vague language in a contract could lead to making commitments to some impossible or patronizing work conditions. Clear contracts ensure satisfaction in a physician’s practice. Legal professionals can help physicians review their contracts to ensure all terms are fair and enforceable and give them a clear understanding of what they are entering into.

Below are a few key considerations in a physician’s employment contract.

1. Schedule Definition

Before signing the contract, a physician should inquire about how long he is expected to work in a day or in a week. There should be information about how many patients are expected to be seen per hour, per day, or per week.

Working relationships should also be defined. These include; to whom the physician reports, whoever is answerable to the physician, and the physician’s role such as hiring support staff.

2. End of Employment

The contract should make clear the circumstances under which a physician may be terminated. Usually, there are two types of termination provisions: with cause and without cause.

The with-cause termination demands that the employer give clear reasons for sacking a physician. These reasons, which have to be specific and beyond doubt, could be loss of hospital privileges, inappropriate conduct, etc.

The without-cause termination allows the employer to terminate a physician for no stated reason. Though so, there have to be 30 to 180 days prior notice.

3. Non-Compete Clauses

This is a restricting agreement that obliges physicians not to leave and work for competitors for a specific period of time.

Here, a physician makes a commitment not to practice within a stipulated radius for several years, usually two, in case they change the employer.

This is done to prevent physicians from taking patients with them to a new practice.

4. Benefits

These are additional advantages over and beyond the salary. The benefits add value to an offer. Examples of these benefits are insurance on health, dental, vision, and malpractice; professional membership dues; vacation/sick leave; plus retirement and disability plans.

Some offers will be more lucrative and enticing. They could offer to cater to student loan repayment and relocation expenses.

5. Income Guarantees

Salaries vary based on factors like specialty, years of experience, etc.
To reap sufficiently, the physician must convince an employer that he or she will give them a run for their money.

The contract should have a compensation formula, which you use to calculate the income.

6. Duties and Responsibilities

The contract should be clear on the responsibilities of the physician. It should state whether he/she is a full or part-time employee.

If need be, the contract should also state whether the physician will be required to perform administrative or teaching duties.

In case there are after-hours call schedules, they should be well provided for in the agreement and the compensation with which they come.

7. Contract Term

Employment contracts should have both a starting date and an ending date.
In some contracts, the renewal is automatic while in others the renewal process is as the initial of the same. As a physician, know the type of contract you are getting into.


As a physician, get to know whatever it is that you are committing to. This way you know what to expect, both in remuneration and in the workload. In case you are not sure, it is advisable that you contact a lawyer to explain all the details in the contract you are about to sign.

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