Physician Assistant Non Compete Clause: Why You Should Expect to See This in Your Contract
The American Medical Association is not joking around when it comes to the shortage of physician assistants in this country. As a matter of fact, they recently put out what is being called the AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians. The goals behind this plan are simple: They want to plug the holes that are causing people to turn away from the physician assistant profession in the first place. A few of their targeted goals include:
- Fixing prior authorization issues
- Supporting telehealth programs
- Plugging the holes in the Medicare payment systems
- Working with physicians to prevent burnout
These are all concrete steps that can and should be taken today to help physicians receive the care and support that they require to continue on in the profession that they love. Putting these steps in place is an urgent concern because projections suggest that the country is likely to see major shortfalls in the number of physicians we need in the next decade or so:
Before the coronavirus pandemic, physician burnout was a national concern, and the pandemic has driven physician burnout to crisis proportions. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects there will be a shortage of physicians between 37,800 and 124,000 clinicians by 2034.
If nothing is done to tackle this problem, then it is all but guaranteed to play out exactly as expected. What could happen next is anyone’s guess, but it seems like it would be a grim future. Fortunately, for physician assistants and those in training to become physician assistants, the job market could not be brighter.
Employers Scramble to Lock in the Best Employees
Practically every physician is actively seeking ways to attract the top physician assistants to his or her practice. The need for assistants is sky-high, and yet the supply just isn’t what it used to be. What this means for the physician assistants who are actively searching for work is that they are in greater demand than ever before. They can (and should) demand higher pay, better benefits, and more flexibility in their work-life balance. At the same time, these employees should anticipate that they will be asked to sign a non-compete clause in their contract.
A physician assistant contract attorney will tell you that non-compete clauses are standard practice in the physician assistant employment world, and this is true. However, you will still want to have that attorney check over your contract carefully to ensure that the non-compete clause that you agree to is fair to you as an employee. They need to ensure that you are being treated fairly by your prospective employer before you ever sign the agreement to work there.
What Should You Expect in a Non-Compete Clause?
The purpose of a non-compete clause is to have a legally binding agreement between an employee and their employer that the employee will not leave to go work for a competitor for a set period of time. A few of the types of restrictions that are common with non-compete clauses include:
- Location-Based Restrictions – Physicians that may want to hire you don’t want you to take an offer up the road from them simply because the other place wants to take you away. Your employer will want to lock you in place to work for them for a set period before you are no longer bound by the contract. Typically, non-compete clauses last anywhere from 1 to 5 years. They may spell out in fine detail that you are not permitted to work for a competitor within a certain mile radius. This protects the employer from excessive churn with their employees based on new offers provided to them by a nearby competitor.
- Competitor-Specific Restrictions – Instead of giving a location restriction, the contract may simply list the names of places where you cannot go to work. This is done when the employer already knows which competitors they do not want to lose employees to. You should check the list carefully to ensure that you are satisfied with the idea of not working for those specific locations. If you find that to be acceptable, then you can move forward with signing your agreement.
- Time-Based Restrictions – Time-based restrictions are always required as part of a non-compete clause. Your employer cannot make you sign something agreeing to work for them indefinitely. They can only lock you in for a reasonable period of time. Again, the timeframe is generally between 1-5 years, with most contracts being on the shorter end of that range. If you feel like the time limit that an employer is asking you to sign up for is excessive, then have your attorney look it over to see if something more agreeable is possible.
Should You Agree to a Non-Compete Clause?
After carefully reading over everything within your contract and the specifics of the non-compete clause, you might still wonder if it makes sense for you to sign the paperwork. Do you really want to agree to stay with a single employer for that period of time?
The answer often boils down to what the rest of your contract looks like. If the non-compete clause is not overly aggressive, and if the remainder of your contract seems to be advantageous, then you should probably sign.
A Contract Attorney Can Help You
Dealing with labor contracts is a very serious issue that will have a major impact on your financial future. If you don’t give these contracts their due attention, you could end up signing something that traps you in a job that you are less than thrilled about.
You are advised to get together with a contract attorney as soon as possible when you realize that you need some help getting your contract straightened out. The fees that you pay to have an attorney look over the contract are tiny in comparison to the ramifications that the contract will have on your life. With those facts in mind, we ask that you kindly contact us so we can work with you to determine your next steps in regards to the contract offered to you.
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