Before signing on to a new practice, ask these important questions.
There are five primary “W” questions that every physician should ask and understand before signing their employment contract.
1. Who is the employer?
It is critical to learn as much as you can about your prospective employer. If the employer is a private practice, what turnover (if any) has the employer had in its leadership? If the employer is a hospital, what is the relationship that it has with its employed physicians? Does the employer share your short- and long-term objectives? Does the employer have a good reputation in the medical community and the community at large? From a corporate standpoint, does the employer have affiliate entities? Will you ever have the opportunity to have an equity piece in any of the affiliates?
2. What does the employer expect?
After a few in-person meetings and e-mails, you may not have a good sense of the employer’s professional expectations. A properly drafted employment contract should delineate your and the employer’s rights and responsibilities. Don’t be surprised on your first day of work by the staff or equipment (or lack thereof) in the office. Understand the path to promotion. What are the benchmarks related to each step in advancement? Get as many as you can described in detail in the contract. The disappointment of not fulfilling expectations will be compounded by not knowing, in advance, what you were supposed to do.
3. Where will you be working?
Many employers have multiple practice locations. Depending upon the community where you live, you may have to travel great distances—even across state lines—to get from one office to the other.
There can be advantages and disadvantages to working in the main office versus a satellite office. The feel of the practice may be very different in one practice location versus another. This can be dictated by the physician(s) who regularly work in a practice location, the staff who are primarily based at a practice location, and even the patient population that frequents a particular location.
Will you be visiting more than one office in a single day? You should be particularly aware of this circumstance if your compensation is based upon productivity.
Because you will have down time while you are commuting from one office to the next, this will negatively impact your productivity compensation even though you are still making a meaningful contribution.