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New doctors: What are the key things to look for in an employment contract?


Have you just graduated from medical school and landed your first job? Congratulations! Before signing on the dotted line, however, you would be well-advised to ensure that your contract covers all your rights, terms and conditions that you are entitled to under employment law. Taking the advice of leading lawyers for physician contracts, here at The Edge research, we recommend that you check the following:



1.  Job expectations and responsibilities

This should include details such as the medicine that you practise, your work schedule- days, hours and weekend shifts, additional administrative duties, availability for on-call and job location. This is of particular importance if your role is based over multiple sites.


2. Compensation

For most new doctors the salary rate is fixed. More senior physicians may charge their services at variable rates. You will need to check whether or not your salary is linked to performance targets such as seeing a certain number of patients per month for example.


3. Benefits

This includes things such as health, dental and vision checks, paid vacations, personal days and parental leave in addition to financial benefits such as life insurance.

Some employers also help with liability and disability insurance and even student loans.



4. Malpractice Insurance Provision

This covers things such as your employer taking responsibility for any liability if someone sues you even after you have left the post.


5. Termination provision- is it with or without cause?

If your termination provision is without cause, you can be fired for no reason.

If you have a cause provision in your contract, then your employer will need specific, legitimate reasons to fire you for example if you lose your practitioner’s licence or board certification.



6. Notice period

Your contract needs to state the amount of notice required before leaving your job. Some employers require one or two months, others insist on a year. The contract must also tell you what legal action you would be subjected to if you left without honouring these terms.


Ways in which a contract lawyer can help you


  • Deciphering legal complex jargon that can be very difficult to work through.
  • Identifying missing elements and clauses that are negotiable to help you get the best possible deal from your employment.
  • Protecting you against inflation by ensuring that your wages rise in line with the cost of living.
  • Ensuring non-competition clauses do not include unreasonable restrictions
Some contracts stipulate that you cannot work for a certain period after the end of your contract or within a certain radius. You will need to ensure your contract doesn’t prevent you from starting your own practice or joining another group. A good lawyer can assist you with this as they know what employers can and cannot get away with.


Making sure it’s all there in writing

You cannot rely on verbal agreements made during the interview. A good lawyer will ensure that all aspects of your job from the schedule to your salary are covered by your contract.

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