Smart physicians are not immune from making highly regrettable mistakes when it comes to employment contracts. And unlike in medicine, you don't get the option of trying a new treatment plan if the first one doesn't work. Physicians are educated, and intellectually sophisticated. This means that, even though you weren’t trained to read legal contracts in medical school, courts expect that you have read and fully understand the terms of the contracts you sign. That means that, both during and even after your employment, you're stuck with the contract you sign, so make sure you avoid these common pitfalls.
In Virginia (and in many other states), NPs who do not have an autonomous practice must practice under the direct supervision of a physician as part of a patient care team, pursuant to what is called a “Practice Agreement,” or, “Collaborative Practice Agreement.” A Practice Agreement is an agreement between an NP and the NP’s supervising physician that describes the relationship between the parties, including the procedures to be followed and acts to be performed by the NP in the course of providing care to patients.
Before signing an employment contract, it is crucial to understand the details of your compensation package. Often, things are not as straightforward as they may appear, and small details may make a big difference to your take-home bottom line and your lifestyle. Before you sign on the dotted line, consider both the cash and non-cash components and evaluate what is most important to you.
Healthcare reform and the shift from fee-for-service to value-based reimbursement has brought a host of new complexities to the day-to-day practice of medicine. As a result, more and more physicians are choosing to be employed by a hospital or health system, rather than owning and running their own practice.
While physician employment is not a new concept, the relationship between employed physicians and their employers is shifting as the model for healthcare reimbursement shifts. Employers not only expect their physician employees to meet or exceed RVU (“Relative Value Unit”) production goals, but also to move the needle on certain quality metrics that reflect the overall health of the patient population. This new paradigm creates unique challenges and risks for employed physicians, and is all the more reason for physicians considering employment to pay close attention to what their employment contracts actually require of them.