Physician Employment and Partnerships: Evaluating Options

Don’t run out of time!

Begin interviewing and evaluating employment and/or partnership opportunities one to two years before finishing training or at least six months before the initial term of your current contract.

Residents and fellows have often told us that they receive very little training in the business and financial areas that are critical to beginning their career after completing training. Many find their last year and especially the final months to be a sprint, having to cram many very important things in all at once. Such as…

Traveling the country to meet with potential employers, studying for boards, negotiating contracts, credentialing, obtaining hospital privileges, packing, moving, enrolling in specialty specific disability insurance plans, and developing other financial plans are all examples of the additional activities that can make life difficult when added to their usual daily demands.

For practicing physicians who are near the end of the initial term of a contract, a similar situation may occur if the second term of employment or the partnership opportunity is not what they anticipated and they are pressed for time to find better opportunities.

Recognizing that this season of life is inevitable for residents, fellows and physicians considering an employment change, it is recommended to develop a game plan ahead of time by mapping out the transitional year in order to stay on top of the essentials.

Residents and fellows often ask us, “when is the best time to start interviewing and entertaining offers?” In most cases we suggest doing it no later than a year before finishing training so the doctor has ample time to meet with enough employers, prioritize, and do second interviews with sufficient time allotted for negotiation. Sometimes the first offer does not pan out and having to pursue a second offer later in the transitional year can be stressful.

Related: How to Buy Into a Private Practice (Valuations and More)

For practicing physicians, the turnover rate of almost 60% within two years at a first employer is evidence that things often don’t turn out as well as they them seemed they would. Sometimes the renegotiation does not end agreeably or the partnership plan is not structured in a manner that is compatible with the physician’s expectations or industry guidelines.

When this happens, there are termination issues with non-competes, possible repayment obligations, and requirements for providing sufficient notice to an employer to prevent a contract breach that can cause a rough transition.

With this in mind, take some time to map out your upcoming transitional year and discuss with a spouse, colleague, advisor or mentor to get a second opinion. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Developing a game plan and getting feedback can set you up for success so that you are not pressed for time with too many things to juggle when it gets down to crunch time.

For questions regarding practice management or to find out more about our resources, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.


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