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Navigating Physician Employment During COVID-19: Evaluate Your Options

Published on: Feb 3, 2021

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Given the realities presented by COVID-19, physicians should proactively consider their best plan of action should their employer wish to modify their current employment arrangement, and/or if the current situation presents an opportunity to change or terminate the relationship in a manner beneficial to the employed physician.  

Physicians should candidly answer the following key questions to assess their employment standing and desired outcome: 

  • What can I live with?  Identify what changes in compensation, duties, schedule, and other variables are doable from a financial and lifestyle perspective, and for how long.  

  • What are deal breakers?  Assess which modifications to my current employment would be non-negotiable (for example, redeployment to another department of the health system, significant cut in compensation, etc.). 

  • What is the market for my services?  While emergency department or infectious disease specialists may be in high demand in some markets, subspecialty services may be paused during the state of emergency, causing a lack of demand for certain services.  Some regions or markets may be more severely impacted than others.  An honest assessment of where alternative employment may be sought and areas that have historically been underserved with respect to a given specialty will be helpful in ascertaining options. 

  • What do I want my practice to look like post-COVID?  Although the timeline is uncertain, the public health emergency presented by the COVID-19 outbreak will end.  Changes to your employment arrangement may be short or long term, and this may be a time to reassess your path forward in terms of work-life balance, location, setting, and other factors. 

Once you know where you stand, you can better leverage your legal and contractual remedies and formulate a strategy. 

This is the third article of a three-part series on physician employment during COVID-19. Below find links to all three articles from the series Navigating Physician Employment during COVID-19. 

Understand Employer Flexibilities 

Know Your Rights 

Evaluate Your Options 

Disclaimer: The information and guidance provided in this document is believed to be current and accurate at the time of posting. This information is not intended to be, and should not be construed to be or relied upon as, legal, financial, or consulting advice.  Consider consulting with an attorney and/or other advisor to obtain guidance relating to your specific situation. References and links to third parties do not constitute an endorsement, sponsorship or warranty by the AMA, and the AMA hereby disclaims all express and implied warranties of any kind. 

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