Nurse Practitioner contracts of employment are supposed to protect who exactly? Don’t panic, but please think before you sign any type of contract with your new employer. I get it…you are a new PMHNP and just passed your board exam. You have this crisp new license. I mean…you are ready to go. After all, your employer offered you a generous compensation package which happens to coincide with your dream job. Maybe you fear that someone else will grab up this one opportunity, if you don’t drop everything and sign right now?
Don’t let your friends sign a non-compete
So, what exactly is a non-compete? This may seem like a harmless piece of paper to you? Well, it certainly is not! Your employer will stuff this part of your nurse practitioner orientation forms into the pile. You may overlook this form, while you fill in your credentialing details and HIPAA forms, and workplace policy forms. Somewhere mixed in that inch thick pile, is a form that comes with a potential gigantic weight on your back.
The non-compete clause or any mention of nurse practitioner contracts are seldom discussed. Unlike antibiotic stewardship or the new shiny object known as psychopharmacogenomic testing, this is contracting, and this is usually to your disadvantage. Furthermore, the non-compete clause may not even be legal in your state. “It should not last for years on end or prevent you from working anywhere in the entire state”. This lawyer blog discusses the validity of the non compete clause.
This blog started the conversation of few years back and did a decent job, except for the title of the entire blog which is Mid-level U…Really? … Midlevel U?….Anyway the article explores nurse practitioner contracts and is worth mentioning. Of course, I’m overlooking the title faux pas and linking it here for the greater good.
Unfortunately, I have some dear colleagues that remain chained to a 2 year non-compete. Escape the Gulag while you can, a white-collar prison of sorts. This contract protects your employer by keeping you chained to their business model, while falsely elevating their marketed retention rates.
Did you know that the orientation process of an APRN can cost upwards of $30,000? Yes, therefore APRN’s are sometimes slipped a non-compete, as you feverishly sign away your rights. The fear in which some nurses have of future litigation may force one to remain with their crappy employer. One could always sell their house and move to another market and apply for another state license. But, who wants to do that?? What should you do?
Here are 3 things you can do right now to protect yourself
1) Google search “Non-compete _____” (Put your state in the blank). Over the last 2 years many states have found the non-compete to be unconstitutional. Take a look at what the Rhode Island Governor did. Some states like Rhode Island have global signature authority and APRN’s can sign anything that a physician can, so we should be treated similarly in terms of fairness.
2) Cross out what you disagree with in the non-compete and initial the cross outs. Make a copy or two. Sound bold? Have a pre-rehearsed answer for the practice owner. Something like this….
“I am really excited to start working here. My ethics and work history are impeccable. My significant other needs to remain local, so this contract would limit my ability to practice in this area. I would like to negotiate this further”
“my kids are in school in this school district and I do not plan on leaving. Please reconsider this status for me. I will not share this with my co-workers, but I cannot sign this part in section XXX. I am not interested in stealing your clients, but I need the freedom in case you retire or move on”.
The point being…you must get into that uncomfortable conversation. You will grow from it both personally and professionally. “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have” – Tim Ferriss
3) Find a lawyer and discuss your nurse practitioner contract. You might find the $500 expense (I certainly did) ridiculous, but consider now that you are now making a 6-figure salary. Is it worth it to sign something that shackles you to a company or person you barely know?
Remember that the PMHNP role remains in high demand for the foreseeable future. Your employer just spent $1000’s on marketing efforts just to get an outstanding clinician like yourself in the door.
Is he/she really going to risk losing you over one line of text in a contract? If they are willing to lose you… Company X might not be the right fit for you. Look elsewhere.We are not technicians, but highly trained professionals and we should be treated as such. Please share this with your colleagues.
Are you stuck in a non-compete now?