Negotiating your contract as a physician is one of the most important steps in the process. The right contract ensures fair compensation and benefits for physicians and provides protections for you when you are on the job. However, for many physicians, negotiating the right contract can be intimidating or confusing. You may take the first offer without negotiating, but that can potentially lead to bad working conditions, money left on the table, and missed opportunities. An unsatisfactory contract can leave you looking for new work within just a couple years of starting.
To help you, here are 10 of the biggest mistakes physicians make when going through the contract negotiation process.
1. Not asking questions
Always enter contract negotiations with questions in mind. While asking questions may seem uncomfortable for you, remember that this is your livelihood. You deserve to have all of the information upfront before you sign on the dotted line. Common questions include:
- What are the benefits?
- Are there incentives?
- What are the schedule expectations?
- Is there a non-compete clause in the physician contract? What are the terms?
2. Forgetting your priorities
Every physician has their own priorities, whether that is making the most money that you can or creating a solid path for career advancement. Granted, not everything can be negotiated, but you can still set yourself up for personal success through your negotiations. Determine your dealmakers and deal breakers prior to sitting down to review your current healthcare contract management.
3. An adversarial approach
It can be easy to approach negotiations as a “you vs. them” scenario, and while the two parties can have their own needs, try to avoid entering negotiations with the idea that someone loses and someone wins. Ultimately, physicians and employers have the same basic goal. There is a way to ensure that you and your employer both end up with a win, and much of that comes down to asking questions, getting the right information, and setting expectations.
4. Not knowing what is negotiable
While some experts say that everything is negotiable, that gets a little shaky from employer to employer, especially with larger providers. Important areas you should consider are how to negotiate your schedule, your compensation, the duration of the contract, and how to negotiate physician reimbursement rates. Non-compete clauses tend to not be negotiable. You can by all means still ask for what you need, but knowing what is actually on the table can help to manage your expectations.
5. Signing a letter of intent before negotiating
A surprisingly common mistake among physicians is signing the letter of intent after the initial offer without negotiating your compensation and benefits. The letter of intent is generally not legally binding, but it is equivalent to a handshake.
6. Not talking to your attorney
If you have started any negotiations without first talking to your attorney, make sure that they are informed of everything you and your potential employer discussed. This can save you, the employer, and your attorney time and trouble. It can be hard for your attorney to fix the situation if you are already midway through negotiations that your employer may have already agreed upon.
7. Demand changes that are built into policy
Avoid trying to negotiate any changes that are dictated by company policy. For example, paid-time-off may be determined by policy, which means there’s nothing that your employer could do without changing company-wide PTO policies.
8. Not justifying your negotiation terms
You should have the justification to back up any negotiations. For example, if you want to ask for more pay, justify why you deserve a higher starting salary, whether it’s your experience level or other qualifications. If you can’t answer that, you may have trouble convincing the employer to give you what you want.
9. Being uncomfortable
Make things as comfortable as possible for you and your employer. Mirror their communication methods, whether they are to the point or take a friendlier approach to negotiations. You can still by all means ask for what you need, but that can be made easier when both parties are as comfortable as possible.
10. Work with Experts
The provider contracting process is not an easy task. To get the most out of your physician contract, you must prepare extensively. Even then, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be able to receive the most out of each negotiation.
Many healthcare providers find it beneficial to work with experts like PayrHealth. We not only advocate on your behalf, but we aim to drive more growth for your business. We work strategically to ensure you receive the best rates possible.