Increasingly, physicians are graduating from medical school and
transitioning directly into employed positions.
Agreeing to the terms of an employment contract can have profound and
long lasting effects on your life.
Contract terms can dictate where you'll be able to practice, how
you'll be compensated, and what obligations you'll owe your
employer-even after you stop working there. You should never sign a
contract without carefully reading its terms, and should consider
consulting an experienced attorney to aid you in this review. The WSMA
can provide members with referrals to attorneys experienced in
employment matters. Email us at
After consulting a lawyer, however, many physicians decide to
negotiate the terms of their contracts on their own. The resources
below can help you as you review and prepare to negotiate the terms of
your employment contracts.
WSMA Principles for Physician Employment
Modeled on the AMA Principles for Physician Employment, the WSMA
Principles for Physician Employment can help physicians, those who
employ physicians, and their respective advisors identify and address
some of the unique challenges to professionalism and the practice of
medicine arising in the face of physician employment. The principles
are not intended to serve as a comprehensive listing of the
professional and ethical obligations of employed physicians; such
obligations, which are the same for all physicians, regardless of
employment status, are more fully delineated in the
AMA Code of Medical Ethics
(which have been adopted by the WSMA).
Frequently Asked Questions: Noncompete clauses
Employment contracts frequently include noncompete and
non-solicitation clauses. While a physician seeking employment will
want to avoid signing an unduly restrictive provision, a physician
employing other people will want to protect legitimate business
interests and the good will of the practice. This concise WSMA FAQ
will explain when these clauses are legal and what to consider when
you evaluate them.
Contracts and physicians: The good, the bad & the things to
Noncompete clauses are frequently part of employment contracts in
Washington state. This WSMA Reports (January 2015) article explains
important considerations for any physician considering an employment
contract, with a particular focus on noncompete clauses.
Red flags in physician employment contracting
Physicians need to be prepared when they negotiate with an employer
regarding a job. In particular, physicians must be able, and willing,
to identify potential "red flags" during negotiations that might
provide insight into the future employment relationship. Read the
WSMA's helpful explanation of the red flags you should be aware of
anytime you consider signing an employment contract.
Employment contract checklist
A checklist of terms and conditions that are commonly found in
employment contracts so that all parties know what terms need to be
clarified and agreed to before the agreement is executed. WSMA does
not advocate how provisions ought to be written nor espouse a policy
position on employment issues.
AMA annotated model physician-hospital employment contract
The American Medical Association has published a valuable resource for
physicians who wish to evaluate an employment contract with a
hospital. This publication provides a wealth of background information
regarding issues which physicians need to consider before even
reviewing a proposed hospital employment contract. The document then
walks through the terms included in a typical hospital employment
contract and provides analysis of important sections and examples of
sample language. This is a detailed and comprehensive look at what a
physician may expect to see in a hospital employment agreement and
should be a "must read" for those entering into employment with a
Books targeting negotiation tactics
"Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In," by
William L. Ury. This oft-cited book has become well known in the 30 years since its
initial publication as a go-to book for learning how to negotiate,
resolve conflicts, and come to mutually acceptable agreements with
"The Final Hurdle: A Physician's Guide to Negotiating a Fair
Employment Agreement," by
Dennis Hursh. This
textbook-like primer is intended to inform residents so that they can
prioritize the kinds of benefits and bonuses they might want to have
in their contract, avoid commonly encountered problems, and negotiate
a advantageous contract.
"Physician's Guide: Evaluating Employment Opportunities & Avoiding
Contractual Pitfalls," by Thomas C. Crawford. In this book, the author
helps physicians assess potential employers and avoid common
"Physician's First Employment Contract (Second Edition): A Guide to
Understanding and Negotiating a Physician Employment Contract...from
the Employee Physician's Perspective," by
Michael L. Kreager. This guide is intended to equip physicians with the insights and
practical information necessary to successfully review and negotiate
their first employment contract.
American Medical Association website
has a wide selection of tools and resources to aid physicians during
contract review and negotiation.
Annotated Model Physician-Group Practice Employment Agreement , which AMA members can download for free in the AMA's online store,
describes basic contract terms physicians can expect to find in their
employment agreements, alongside more comprehensive explanations of
why these terms matter. Also included are model contract provisions
for comparison purposes.
For those preparing to review and negotiate an employment contract
offered by a hospital (or similarly situated entity), the
AMA's Annotated Model Physician-Hospital Employment Agreement
will be especially helpful. This resource addresses the specific needs
of physicians considering employment with a larger institution, and
the considerations and consequences unique to those kinds of
For those looking for a lengthier, comprehensive resource, the
American College of Physicians has published an
online resource entitled Physician Employment contracts.