Finally, physicians should at all times be aware of whether they owe a deficit to the employer. Upon termination, this can come as an unpleasant surprise. Taking a lower draw/salary can be an effective strategy to avoid a deficit in the event a physician is planning his or her departure.
Look for Non-Competition Provisions
Non-competition provisions are a significant provision impacting a physician’s exit strategy. Ideally, a non-compete will only apply in the event a physician’s employment has terminated due to the physician’s breach or the physician has elected to voluntarily terminate. A physician must understand how termination will impact enforcement of his or her non-compete and new employment options.
Other Factors to Consider:
Many physicians will also be responsible for the cost of a tail policy upon termination. Similar to the non-competition provision, physicians are often responsible only if terminated for cause or if they elect to walk away from the employer. Sometimes they are responsible under all circumstances. When a physician is responsible for tail cost, finding a new employer willing to absorb the tail cost or to pay a bonus to cover the tail is ideal. At the time the physician’s employment agreement is initially negotiated, it is ideal to limit the circumstances under which tail will be the physician’s responsibility and to propose reasonable alternatives to tail coverage.
Upon termination of employment, physician may face repayment of a relocation allowance, signing bonus, and other amounts. Physicians should be aware of the circumstances under which they will be required to make repayments. It is ideal to have these amount prorated on a monthly basis during the forgiveness period and to fight any obligation to repay unless the physician is terminated for cause/leaves by choice. Repayment in the event of death or total disability should also be avoided.
Medical record access following termination can be an issue for many physicians as it relates to Boards. Make sure language is included in the agreement requiring cooperation by the employer related to collected cases and other documentation required by the physician to obtain Board certification.
Every physician needs to negotiate their exit strategy before a new employment agreement is even signed. Planning ahead avoids unpleasant surprises and can assure a smoother transition upon termination of the employment relationship.