It is important to ask lots of questions before becoming an employee of a hospital. Below are the 6 main questions one needs to find out the answers to before joining a hospital.
#1 – Does the hospital offer tuition reimbursement or repay loans?
While not every hospital will offer reimbursement (or partial reimbursement) towards tuition if a physician joins their hospital and practices there a for a certain amount of years, there are some that do, and it is worth asking the question. As my grandfather always said, you never know until you ask. The worst thing that could happen is the hospital says no, they don’t offer that. And, you aren’t any worse off then you were before you ask.
Some places where you will find tuition reimbursement is by working for the state, military, or Indian Health Service. Usually these places require you work for them for a certain number or years. Please click on the link below to get more information regarding this.
#2 – What kinds of marketing will the hospital provide for the physician?
It is important to know what kind of marketing the hospital will provide for you as a physician because if they are not providing you with this then you will need to provide it yourself. Will they make you brochures and business cards? Will you have your own website? How is the hospital going to help you grow your business?
When you start out as a physician it is going to take time building up your patient population. This is done by marketing yourself. Whether you use word of mouth, meeting other doctors to let them know you can help their patients, using social media or all the above. It is very important to market yourself.
It is also good to ask how the hospitals decides which patients go to which physicians if they have more than one with the same specialty. You should ask what the number of referring providers is within the hospital system, and who they are currently using.
#3 – What is the level of leadership you are allowed within your practice?
It is good to know if you will be able to run clinic the way you want to run clinic and see the number of patients you want to see. Do they have a certain number of patients you need to see a month or are they okay with you seeing the number you want to see a month?
Will you be able to take vacation when you want and as much as you want, or will you be limited to a certain number of days off a year? Will you be able to take make your own hours and take a half a day off on Fridays if you want?
Will you be able to hire and fire staff for appropriate reasons? Or will the hospital be hiring, and if so how much say do you get in the hire? You need to know yourself and know if you want a lot of control or you are okay with no control.
#4 – Would this be based on salary or RVUs, or a combination of the two?
It is important to know if you will be on a straight salary if you get paid by RVUs or maybe a combination of the two. You need to know what survey data the hospital uses and how they determine your RVU (Relative Value Units) rate. In the health industry, compensation is based on the productivity of each physician. They measure this in RVUs (Relative Value Units). To learn more about RVUs, click the link below.
How many patients you will be required to see in a month to make your RVU? Will this change over time and if so, will it affect your RVUs? Your specialty will also play a roll in this.
You should also ask how long your contract is for and if your commission or base could change after the set years. It is important to know if you are salary, but the hospital plans to change you over to RVUs, when and how that transition will occur. Do you have any ability to negotiate? Is it possible to be a 1099 vs W2 if you wanted that?
#5 – What contract benefits do you have?
It is good to know what types of insurance they offer like health and malpractice insurance. Do they offer a 401K, retirement matching, bonus structures, midlevel practitioner support, pay for your CME courses, travel expenses and licensure reimbursement to name a few?
#6 – What requirements does the hospital have for its medical staff?
How many meetings will you have to attend per year? Will you have to serve on any committees? Will you be required to give lectures to staff or at hospital functions? If you are being asked to take part in hospital policies, like a medical director, will you be reimbursed for your time?
These are just some of the question a physician should be asking when they are looking to join a hospital. Please watch Dr. Adam Savage’s video on “Hospital Employment, Understanding RVUs, and Contract Negotiations” to learn more questions to ask, and what it is like working for a hospital.