Physicians are becoming employees of hospital systems; and every such relationship is defined with a written contract. We have found that many physicians do not have the contract reviewed by an attorney. That is a mistake. However, a second level alternative does exist.

If a physician elects not to retain an attorney, she should discuss her contract with other physicians. You will be surprised at how the terms in employment contracts vary between individuals who practice in the same specialty, often in the same system. Why is that?

It is because system management’s offer contract terms that depend on the system’s need for a certain type of specialist. Terms related to duration of contract, bonuses, compensation, termination, restrictive covenant and other benefits are tied to each specialty.

It is vital that a physician determine that the terms offered her are appropriate for her specialty. If you do not employ an attorney to review your contract, it is imperative that you share information with other physicians in your specialty and system. You can then discover what terms they have been offered or agreed to.

A broad contract perspective is enormously valuable. You can determine whether a system is offering you a fair contract. You can also negotiate intelligently, rather than blindly accepting what terms management offers.