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Top 35 Questions to Ask Before Signing Your First Physician Contract

Questions Physicians Should Ask Before Signing Their First Contract

After years of medical school and residency, most new physicians are faced with the momentous decision of where to begin their careers. Whether it is a large group, private practice, hospital, outpatient center, or urgent care, negotiating your first contract can be worth millions. There is an infinite number of various terms and conditions involved that can be detrimental to the success of your career, which is why it is essential that new physicians have their contracts reviewed by a professional or a trusted senior physician advisor before negotiating and signing on the dotted line.

Asking detailed questions will help new physicians gather in-depth information regarding the practice or facility that will help determine whether or not the opportunity is the right fit.

Below are 35 questions that may be helpful to ask during the interview and negotiation process:

  1. What are the requirements for this position?
  2. What are the non-medical responsibilities, such as meetings, administration, community involvement, speeches?
  3. Why are you looking for someone to fill this position; is someone retiring? Did someone leave? Is this practice or facility looking to expand?
  4. Is the practice planning to add any additional physicians outside this position?
  5. What is the history of this practice or facility?
  6. What are the short- and long-term goals of the group or facility?
  7. What is the volume of patients the facility sees? How profitable is the practice or facility?
  8. What are the general patient volume expectations for this position?
  9. Will there be a productivity ramp-up period?
  10. What might a day-to-day schedule look like? Hours? Days per week? Weekends?
  11. Are physicians expected to take call? If so, what does that involve? How often? Do all providers participate equally?
  12. Where will this position physically be located? In the hospital, satellite office, outpatient clinic, urgent care, etc.?
  13. How are patients assigned? How are patient referrals handled?
  14. How does the practice assist a new physician with building a patient base?
  15. Does the practice or facility do any marketing and if so, do they conduct marketing for new physicians?
  16. Does the group encourage CME, teaching, hospital staff, and medical society activities?
  17. What is the political environment of the medical community?
  18. What are the types of credentials and privileges required?
  19. Does the practice use advanced practice providers?
  20. Does the practice use an EMR?
  21. Who oversees the practice or facility?
  22. To whom will this position report? What does the reporting structure look like? How is the day-to-day management of the practice accomplished?
  23. What is the group’s payer mix?
  24. How is performance be evaluated?
  25. How will quality of care, clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, and cost savings affect performance?
  26. What is the organization’s compensation formula?
  27. What type of general benefits are being offered?
  28. Ask about sign-on bonuses, relocation, continued education, income guarantees, profit sharing, incentive structures, buy-in structures, partnership potential, and long-term potential for the position.
  29. What type of malpractice does the group or facility have? Who pays for malpractice? Who is responsible for tail coverage?
  30. What is the length of the contract?
  31. What are the contract termination provisions?
  32. Are there restrictive covenants? Non-compete clauses? If so, are they negotiable?
  33. Are there any lawsuits pending against the practice?
  34. What are considered the traits of a successful physician in this organization?
  35. How can I specifically help this institution to meet its goals?

Asking the right questions and having detailed, in-depth conversations with potential employers will allow physicians to make an educated decision on whether the opportunity is the best career option for them. What is equally important is that new providers ensure everything that was initially agreed upon is written into the contract, and that everything in the contract is crystal clear. It is also crucial to utilize the assistance of a senior physician advisor or healthcare attorney to review any documents before you sign. Finally, keep in mind the best time for negotiation is before you sign the contract; it is much more difficult to change the terms of the contract after employment. Wishing you all the best in your career search and HAPPY HUNTING!

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About Anne Carrie

Anne Carrie holds an MBA in Healthcare Management and a BS in Marketing. Her experience includes over 10 years of healthcare marketing, administration, recruiting, and business development. She has over 4 years of healthcare writing, copywriting, and editing experience for Hospitals, Medical Practices, and Medical/Healthcare companies. Her work has been published in Becker's Hospital Review, Medical Practice Insider, Physicians Practice, DenistryIQ, HealthITOutcomes, and other healthcare related publications.