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The Most Common Legal Mistakes Physicians Make In Their First Employment Contracts

May 28, 2022

The Most Common Legal Mistakes Physicians Make In their First Employment Contracts

If you’re like many physicians, your first job after residency will most likely be with an existing practice or health facility. These organizations often require doctors to sign an employment contract prior to beginning their employment. Employment contracts are legally binding documents. These documents set out the terms of your employment. These terms include your compensation, benefits, obligations, responsibilities as well as rights at your new job. They also set out the responsibilities and obligations of your employer to you.  

Once you sign your employment contract, you will be legally bound to adhere to the requirements set out in the contract. Your employment contract, therefore, has a significant role to play in your career and your life in general. It is therefore important to ensure that you avoid making mistakes in reviewing and negotiating your contract. Attorney Robert S. Chelle of Chelle Law is an expert in employment contracts. He’s reviewed thousands of physician employment contracts and helped doctors ensure they get the best deals. Below, we discuss some of the most common mistakes physicians make with their first employment contracts. 

1. Not seeking expert legal counsel for the review of your contract 

Your employment contract as a physician is an agreement that will have an impact not just on your professional life but also on your personal life for the years that it is valid and sometimes beyond. While physicians are especially intelligent people, they don’t have knowledge or experience with employment contracts. They may not understand the implications of the terms set out in the contract. 

It is important to have your employment contract reviewed by an attorney with experience and knowledge in contract law. At Chelle Law, we’ll review your contract and identify pitfalls, loopholes, and other red flags that could cause problems in the long term. Your attorney will look over the terms of the contract and spot any ambiguities. We have experience reviewing employment contracts for doctors and other healthcare professionals. We will work to ensure you get the best possible terms. 

2. Not researching the prospective employer or asking them questions 

Many doctors that are just completing their residency are anxious about finding a place where they will work for the rest of their lives. Many consider factors such as the location of the facility and how much the position pays. They, however, do not make much of an effort to find out more about their employer. 

It is important to learn more about your prospective employer and what they expect of you. This will give you a better idea of what to expect when working for them. Your work environment and the demands of the job will have a big impact on your professional and personal life. 

Ask questions such as what they expect of you. What will be the roles and responsibilities assigned to you? What duties or responsibilities will you have beyond patient care? Are you being hired to replace another physician? If so, why did the physician leave the practice or facility? Does the employer have a history of malpractice? Are there pending lawsuits against the employer? How long has the facility been there? What volume of patients do they receive? How many patients will you be expected to see in a day? 

Do your research to find out as much as you can about your prospective employer and what the working conditions at the practice are like. 

3. Not seeking legal counsel early enough 

Many physicians will attempt to review their employment contracts and negotiate the terms on their own. They will not seek legal counsel until they find themselves in a bind. 

It is important to remember that your employment contract is a legally binding document. If you sign your employment contract, letter of intent, or any other document your prospective employer gives you, you will essentially be agreeing to the terms set out in these documents. 

It is important to get an experienced attorney involved early in the process of reviewing your employment contract. In fact, you should seek legal counsel before you start negotiating the employment contract. An experienced contract lawyer will review your contract and identify terms that you should discuss in your negotiation. They will raise points that may have been overlooked and ensure you have the information you need to negotiate better terms. 

4. Not getting everything in writing 

Many employers will make oral promises during the interview or negotiation process. Some promises may be included in the employment contract. Others may have been made in passing and may not be included in your employment contract. It is difficult to hold your employer to account for a promise that was made orally and was not put in writing. 

Do not rely on promises that are made orally. If your employer makes a promise, it should be written down and made clear in writing. If your employer has made promises orally, you should let your attorney know during the employment contract review process. Your attorney will ensure that these promises are included and will review the contract to ensure that the terms are favorable. 

5. Not asking for clarification on contract language you are unsure about 

Employment contracts often feature a lot of legal jargon. The wording of your contract may be ambiguous. If you’re having to read your contract more than twice in order to figure out what it means, it’s important to seek out legal counsel for clarification. The wording of a legal document is very important. You may interpret the terms of a contract in one way only to find out that your employer made no such promise. 

Seek an experienced attorney and have them explain the terms of the contract to you. Ensure that you understand the terms and ask for clarifications when you’re not sure. This could make the difference between signing a contract that is favorable and being miserable with your position for the term of your employment. 

If you’re considering employment in a medical practice or health facility and have been offered a contract, be sure to get in touch with Chelle Law for expert medical employment contract review services for physicians.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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