• Andrew Wilner, MD

Locum Tenens Contracts: An interview with Jon Appino

Introduction: In today’s corporate job market, physician employment contracts require more than a heartfelt handshake. Contracts for permanent positions tend to be long, complicated and littered with boilerplate legalese. Locum tenens contracts are typically shorter and more straightforward. For all types of employment contracts, physicians may benefit from the advice of a seasoned professional, either an attorney or contract specialist, before signing on the dotted line.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Appino by email regarding contract issues that concern locum tenens physicians. Jon is the principal of ContractDiagnostics, a company that does nothing but review physician contracts.


AW: Is it necessary to have a lawyer or contract specialist review a Locum Tenens contract? Have you consulted on Locum Tenens contracts? 

JA: We have done many in the past. They are fairly simple documents but still should be reviewed by someone that understands the market. Often times an attorney is not the best or only stop for this. Locums agreements are generally ‘legal’ and the provider is mostly looking for an explanation of the terms, how they can leave or accept assignments, how to negotiate them with the locums company, etc. Someone familiar with the unique locums market is a great place for this – not necessarily an attorney that does a handful of ‘contract reviews’ per year.


AW:Are there any contract issues in the physician’s full-time contract that might interfere with Locum Tenens work?

JA: 100% absolutely. Most all contracts we review here restrict outside work so they would want to get it approved through their employer. We discuss this during our review process and encourage physicians to understand the approval process for their current employer – potentially even gain pre-approval in the contract if possible.


AW: Are there any contract issues in the Locum Tenens contracts that should be scrutinized?

JA: Of course any contract should be reviewed. Typically locums contracts are straightforward but should be reviewed for malpractice insurance and termination. Can you terminate? Can they? How much notice? What if you are mid-assignment? Any effects of the termination (restrictions, lost payments, repayments, etc).


AW: How common are restrictive covenants? Which states are they legal/illegal?

JA: We see them very often in employed or independent contractor deals – not usually in Locums agreements. There are many state differences and this is constantly changing. The tech industry is taking a role in the changing legislation in some states.


AW: How do you terminate a Locum Tenens contract?

JA: It all depends on the terms of the agreement. Most have 30 day termination provisions.


AW: Any other points that late-career physicians should be aware of when considering Locum Tenens?

JA: I think it is going to be a great place to continue to do what they love doing – help patients. It would allow them the flexibility on schedule and even location depending on how they are setting it up. We all know the population of providers is aging and there will be many retiring soon – we also know the general population is the same – and they’ll need physicians. The locums market is poised for robust growth over the next 5 years and should any physician wish to participate in it I think he/she will be rewarded well.


AW: Jon, thanks very much for sharing your expertise! How can physicians contact you if they have questions about their locum tenens or permanent contracts?

JA: Feel free to contact me at my office (816.288.3312) or through my website:

www.contractdiagnostics.com.

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