More and more physicians are considering hospital employment as an alternative to private practice. Whether you are considering becoming a hospital employee or joining a private group practice, however, there are a number of considerations that should be taken into account when structuring your employment agreement. In the coming days and weeks, I hope to blog about some of these important issues -- the first of which is defining the scope of employment.
As professionals, full-time employed physicians are generally expected to work the hours and provide the services required to ensure the prompt and necessary care of practice or hospital patients. This does not mean however that the employment agreement cannot provide at least the general parameters of the employment commitment including the type of services the physician will be required to render, where he or she will be required to work, the normal work hours and the physician's on-call obligations. For example, if you are being hired to work or concentrate in a specific subspecialty, the employment agreement should state that fact. You do not want to show up for employment as an electrophysiologist and find out that you will be expected to practice general cardiology.
Similarly, if the employer has multiple service sites, unless you’re willing to rotate among those sites or be assigned to sites in your employer’s discretion, consider specifying your primary practice location in the employment agreement so that you cannot be reassigned without your prior consent. Also, the agreement should specify when you will be required to work. If the expectation is that you will work office hours on the weekend, you should know this upfront.
Finally, if you will have on-call responsibilities, you should try to have the agreement specify your maximum on-call obligations or at least that call will be shared equally among the similarly-situated physicians in the practice.