While physicians today learn cutting-edge medical treatments and technologies, most of them don’t receive any instruction on the business side of medicine. That’s an unfortunate omission; practicing medicine requires doctors to enter contracts, to be aware of applicable rules, laws and regulations, to market themselves, to understand proper coding requirements, and to properly collect patient payments.
Today we will focus on one of the first business documents a physician will encounter: a contract with a physician practice. What subjects will it cover? What questions can you ask? Should you get a professional to look at the document?
Compensation is one item that will be addressed in the contract. Be sure you understand how your compensation is determined, whether you have the opportunity to earn a bonus, and exactly what a bonus will be based on. You may be offered a trial period to practice as a salaried physician (perhaps one to three years) before you can join the practice as a partner.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are required to work as a salaried physician for a time, how does the practice decide whether or not to offer you a partnership? What has happened to physicians who have come before you? Has anyone failed to make partner, and if so, what were the reasons?
If you are fortunate enough to be considering competing offers, don’t look at salaries in a vacuum. A quick online search will reveal the average income of a physician in your specialty in the city you are considering. Similarly, you can search and compare the cost of living in different cities. A slightly lower offer may go farther in a city with a much lower cost of living.
Do not forget to factor in benefits as well. A practice that pays for your CME, malpractice insurance, health and disability insurance, and makes generous contributions to your retirement account is relieving you from paying thousands of dollars per month.
OnBoard Healthcare is a partner of the Medical Association. Visit them online for more information.