As a physician, the medical world is your purview—not contracts and the legal jargon they entail. However, you must examine every contract you intend to sign carefully before doing so, because of the consequences inherent for professional trajectory.

If you are considering entering an independent medical practice, the contract is arguably even more crucial than if you were to take a job at a hospital or clinic. In these settings, procedures and human resources departments are more established and, therefore, standardized. You must discover whether the medical practice you intend to join has everything in order before you commit.

8 things to watch for

  • What is the nature of your relationship with the practice? Are you an employee or an independent contractor?
  • If there is an affiliation with a hospital, find out if you will be expected to practice in that hospital. Some hospitals have better reputations than others. You may or may not be comfortable with a connection to that institution.
  • Apart from clinic time, what other duties will you be responsible for? Will you need to participate in business development? Attend meetings at an affiliated hospital or within the practice? If so, how much time will the practice expect you to dedicate to these activities?
  • How will they compensate you? Is it a base salary plus bonus, a fee-for-service arrangement or item-by-item reimbursement with a value-based payment component?
  • What quality parameters does this facility uphold? Are you comfortable with the facility’s standards?
  • What disclosure and obligations does the contract include? Are you amenable to all that’s listed? Examples might consist of staff privileges, on-call expectations or an agreement to bill only through the practice.
  • What benefits does the contract include? Will the practice cover continuing education? What about insurance and retirement?
  • What are the conditions for termination? How long will the contract be in effect? How can you terminate the contract? Can the practice terminate only with cause or at will? Is there a non-compete clause?

Contracts are complex. Make sure you get the facts before agreeing to take the job. These eight points are a place to start when evaluating whether a job offer at an independent medical practice is right for you.