Physician Recruitment During COVID

If an employer is using COVID as an excuse for playing hardball, consider another employer.
physician recruitment during COVID

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 refused to change the agreement (and I’m happy to report that he has been replaced with a more reasonable attorney who will make changes).  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.

If you have a physician employment agreement you would like us to review, you can start your review here.

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Dennis Hursh

Dennis Hursh has been providing healthcare legal services in Pennsylvania since 1982. Since 1992, he has been a physician's lawyer serving as Managing Partner of Physician Agreements Health Law, the first law firm in the country to focus exclusively on physician employment agreements. Dennis has devoted his life to serving physicians and medical practices. He is the author of the definitive book on physician contracts "The Final Hurdle - a Physician's Guide to Negotiating a Fair Employment Agreement, and a frequent lecturer on physician employment agreements.

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Physician Prosperity Program

How It Works

After purchasing the physician contract review, you will receive an email asking you to transmit the agreement and any concerns you have to me. Many physicians do this by email, but I will be available by phone, too. In three business days from the time you purchase the Physician Prosperity Program® and transmit the draft physician employment agreement along with any concerns you have about the agreement and the information I will need to perform the MGMA analysis, you will receive a detailed physician contract review letter from me.

After you receive my physician contract review letter, you will have the opportunity to discuss it with me, to make sure all of your concerns were met, and to correct any factual inaccuracies, or to point out things that were verbally promised but didn’t make it into the physician employment agreement. These discussions, and revisions of the letter following these discussions, are included in the initial fixed fee.

Once you are completely comfortable with the physician contract review letter, you transmit the letter to your potential employer.