Physician recruitment during COVID came up at a recent presentation I gave on negotiating your first physician contract. I have previously written about physician contracts during COVID, but physician recruitment during COVID seems like an entirely different animal.
I was shocked when the Residency Director told me that several of her residents had been told something to the effect of “Because of COVID, we aren’t changing our employment agreements, and we have several people behind you, so let us know immediately if you are going to accept our offer.”
This is wrong on so many levels that I hardly know where to start. Perhaps here: THESE PEOPLE ARE JERKS, KEEP LOOKING!
The old line about our “standard physician employment agreement” is just that – a line. In all my years of reviewing and negotiating physician employment agreements, I’ve only run into one regional counsel at one health system that really refuses to change the agreement. Virtually every other employer I have ever dealt with is willing to make reasonable changes to the agreement. The fact that someone is using COVID as an excuse for inflexibility convincingly demonstrates that this place isn’t somewhere you want to spend your career.
New attendings in particular need to know their value when they get the physician employment agreement offer. The employer has spent a lot of valuable physician time evaluating different candidates and has decided that they want you. You are the prize for the employer, the position isn’t a prize for you at this point. If an employer is playing hardball with you at this point, before you sign the agreement, you can be quite sure that they won’t treat you with the respect you deserve once you sign on the bottom line.
Physician recruitment during COVID should not be any different. The physician shortage in this country hasn’t changed – there is still a need far beyond the supply of available physicians. Any employer that doesn’t want you to get a physician contract review must be concerned about what that review will reveal. Why else would they want you to decide before you get a MGMA compensation analysis to see how MGMA benchmarks compare to this offer, or have a physician’s attorney review call coverage requirements, the physician sign-on bonus, and physician benefits? My guess is that this employer’s physician recruitment during COVID is just taking unfair advantage of a bad situation.
My advice would be to keep looking, and be comfortable that you have dodged a bullet by passing on this position.
You might also be interested in my blog posts on physician productivity compensation, letters of intent in physician contracts, physician covenants not to compete, physician compensation, MGMA benchmarks, physician employment agreements with a private practice, patient contact hour requirements, malpractice insurance in physician employment agreements, starting work under a physician employment agreement, and hospitalist contracts.