Healthcare Providers: 4 Questions to Ask Before Entering into an Employment Agreement

By: Tricia A. Shackelford, Esq. | Williams Kilpatrick, PLLC

As a physician, nurse practitioner, dentist, physician assistant, or other healthcare professional, you have navigated the education system and completed the course work to realize your dream of working in your chosen profession as a healthcare provider. Now, more than ever, there is a need for those called to care for the sick and ailing.  The last hurdle to clear before you begin your professional life is negotiating an employment agreement.  Here are some things to think about when looking for a job.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a brave new world for healthcare professionals entering into the workforce.  Despite the current state of the job market, there is still high demand for physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, physician assistants, or other healthcare professionals. Healthcare is a necessity and a priority for most people.  Patients can postpone medical care but that pause is finite.  With appropriate measures in place, including use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and monitoring of vital signs, patients are resuming their normal healthcare routines.  As a result, hiring of physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, physician assistants, or other healthcare professionals is on the rise.

Here are four questions you should ask before you sign a contract.

(1) What is the Pay and What Benefits Will I Receive?

Key elements of a provider compensation include signing bonuses, relocation expenses, fringe benefits, and compensation methodologies. All of these elements comprise a total compensation package. 

(2) How Stable is the Potential Employer?

It is important to understand the short- and long-term business plans, leadership stability, and employee turn-over rates  of your potential employer. Failing to ascertain this information may leave you with an extremely unsatisfying job or, worse yet, unemployed without much notice.  

(3) Is there a Non-Compete in My Contract?

A post-employment restrictive covenant, or a non-compete clause, can prevent you from practicing within your community at the end of an employment contract.  It is vital that you understand what restrictions your employment contract contains because it may impact your professional life down the road.

(4) What Does the Employer Expect from Me?

There should be no ambiguity in the terms of your employment agreement.  You need to understand what will be required of you in regard to your work day (how many hours a day are you required to work, will you have “on-call” obligations), requirements for direct patient care, and whether you will be considered full-time or part-time.  

For over 20 years, Tricia has been assisting physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, physician assistants, and other healthcare professionals in negotiating employment agreements.  If you have questions or would like help negotiating your employment agreement, reach out to Tricia Shackelford directly at tshackelford@wktlaw.com or (859) 629-3302.