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Negotiating the first employment contract

A medical doctor's first employment is one of their biggest challenges after medical school and residency. Employment contracts for medical professionals should contain certain provisions to help assure success.

Compensation trends now depend more on productivity than a specific salary amount. Negotiations and contract terms should identify productivity expectations and whether a health professional can realistically meet these goals.

Clinical care is essential for productivity expectations. Administrative duties that a doctor must perform should be clarified and understood because these tasks take time away from engaging in clinical care and lower compensation.

Any other job duties that take away from patient care should also be set forth, especially if compensation depends on productivity. Duties that are not related to clinical or patient care, such as engaging in after-hours business development or hospital and medical group meetings, must be identified and whether they will be compensated. The day-to-day work load for non-clinical tasks must be agreed upon.

On-call responsibilities and work hours are also important matters for discussion. Negotiations should identify specific times and whether evening and weekend work is required. These are important for determining the employer's expectations for its professionals and maintaining a reasonable balance between their work and personal lives.

A job candidate should make several general requests in negotiations because potential employers expect candidates to give up something. Coming up with six or seven requests allows an applicant to concentrate on standing firm on two or three items that are truly significant and make good-faith concessions on their other requests.

An attorney can help negotiate an employment contract that is reasonable and meets professional and financial expectations. Lawyers may be important for reviewing the terms of any employment agreement and providing options.

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