Physicians are more mobile than they used to be, with many leaving their current practice in search of a better work environment or better professional opportunities. If you’re considering a change in practice, following this 10-step checklist can help you prepare and make the change less stressful:
1. Review your employment agreement or other signed documents that can include advance notice provisions, retirement plan details, noncompete covenants, and other key elements. These documents will specify what you have promised to do and what has been promised to you.
2. Review the practice’s established policies for physician departure, which may conflict with your employment agreement.
3. Develop a plan to notify patients of your departure. Some states require a written notice 30 days prior to departure to give patients sufficient time to transfer their records if they want to change physicians.
4. Review advance notice provisions in your contract or deferred compensation agreement. If you fail to give proper notice, the practice could claim breach of contract, which can cost you.
5. Review your retirement plan to see if your planned departure date would result in forfeited benefits.
6. Obtain supplemental malpractice insurance, or “tail coverage,” which would cover any claims made after you have left the practice. Also, check to see if your employment agreement requires the practice to pay for this coverage.
7. Determine if patient charts, lists, and demographic information are owned by you or the practice, and have patients who want to remain with you request their records be forwarded.
8. Take reasonable steps to ensure that your departure date does not compromise patient care.
9. Determine if you are prohibited from attempting to hire employees of your current practice for your new one, either by contract or state law.
10. Review your noncompete covenant. It may prohibit you from practicing within a certain geographic radius of your current practice for a designated period of time, often two years.
Adapted from "A Must-Do List for the Departing Physician."
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