Invariably, physicians are told that hiring an attorney to examine employment contracts is a good idea. Inevitably, some elect not to take that advice. Yes, it can seem difficult to justify a $1,500 expense for a contract lawyer when you’re earning a resident’s salary, carrying a heavy debt load and trying to figure out how to cover your family’s moving expenses. But there is a compelling reason to spend the money.
Your first contract often sets the bar and determines your subsequent contract terms. Accepting an unfavorable contract early on can mean years spent trying to catch up. It’s usually much cheaper in the long run to secure the services of an attorney and get a more favorable contract, rather than having to play catch-up for several years in an effort to make up lost ground.
In hindsight, many physicians wish they’d spent the money to strike a better deal.
You may not get all the changes you request during contract negotiations, but you can and should always ask—politely.
Compensation is, of course, not the only consideration when deciding whether and where to accept employment. You must also consider:
There is no perfect job. Be flexible and grounded. Tradeoffs are inevitable: think carefully about what you need vs. what you want.
Interviewing and negotiating are learned skills. The more you practice them, the better you get.