Technically, this is the last post for PA Month here on the podcast. Fear not! There will be more PAs on podcasts coming up. However, we wanted to finish our discussion with Fred Wu since people may find this portion on contracts helpful in the immediate future.
On our last blog and podcast we talked quite a bit about the interview and selection process, but what happens when the contract is presented? These can be complex and daunting. We will discuss tips on reviewing contracts.
When in doubt, get an attorney. There are attorneys who devote their career to contracts specifically. If there are legal concerns, make sure to discuss with a lawyer those concerns. However, others can also review these contracts such as preceptors, professors, or coworkers. In general, a few sets of eyes with people who have different backgrounds can be very beneficial.
Watch for clauses such as a "non-compete" clause. These can be devastating and may lead to moving if not thoroughly reviewed. Also check the terms of working in other places or the details of bonuses. Basically, the devil is in the details. Overall, it is key to remember that contracts are negotiable. Ask when you want to see something change or be removed entirely.
Remember that anything is not written into the contract will have no meaning in the end. "A verbal contract is only as good as the paper it is written on." If something is promised to you and you want to make sure it is in there, get it in the contract or have some paperwork in place to prove this was guaranteed.
There are different types of employment. There are full and part time employees. Others can be working as per diem (PRN) which usually pay higher but have no benefits and no guarantee in hours. There are also independent contractors which may work full or part time hours but often have little or no benefits but do not have the same pay and tax structure which can be very beneficial in the right setting. As such, there will be different reimbursements (primarily for employees) of hourly versus salary. It is important to calculate hours to find if the salary is too low compared to an hourly position. In general, in emergency medicine the usual reimbursement is hourly.
In regards to pay, there are many ways to find what the proper compensation is for a position. Salary reports are very helpful and usually available through professional organizations such as AAPA when it comes to PA compensation. As a side note, if you are well compensated, please make sure to fill our these surveys as it helps both you in the future and your colleagues when it comes to negotiations.
Keep in mind with pay that it is more than just the raw number. Cost of living has a huge role. My cost of living in the rural setting is less than that in the city. Also, benefits can have a huge impact even if it does not bring cash home. Factor in if these intricacies are worth the changes in pay. Have someone else on your side who can help such as a financial adviser to discuss what benefits are worth the expenses or what is better to do on an individual level. Especially with independent contractors, need to keep in mind that you will most likely need your own accountant.
An extension of the contract include things like the collaborative agreement. What are you allowed to do and what limitations exist? Is it worth working in the setting? How will they train and prepare you in this setting? These and so much more all matter and should be considered part of the negotiation and contract portion of this deal.
When going over the benefits, review them in detail. Try to calculate them as much as possible. This helps when trying to negotiate and find the best compensation package. Check the insurance and aspects in regards to it such as the deductible and which carrier. Make sure there is malpractice coverage. Check for tail coverage along with other aspects on the malpractice insurance. There are many details but again look at the different salary reports such as AAPA since they have a detailed review of what percentage of PAs will get a type or benefit.
Fred wanted to make sure we made a plug for the SEMPA toolkits both for students and practicing PAs which are available here under the "Career and Professional Development" section. You will have to be a member to access them. Let us know what you think by giving us feedback here in the comments section or contacting us on Twitter or Facebook. Remember to look us up on Libsyn and on iTunes. If you have any questions you can also comment below, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a message from the page. We hope to talk to everyone again soon. Until then, continue to provide total care everywhere.
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