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Does anyone have advice on how to best quit one's job in private practice? I have been unhappy for the past several months and am going through the interview process for another job with a significant pay increase. I anticipate needing to give notice soon, but don't know how to best go through that process. I've been at my current practice for about two years. Any thoughts/advice to make the transition less awkward would be appreciated.
 

Weirdy

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"Hello _____

I am putting in my xyztime notice.

This group has treated me very well, but the time has come to pursue other opportunities.

If you have an questions in order to finalize this transition, please feel free to contact me at ________"

Apologies for my ignorance, but are there nuances that would make this different from any other job in terms of delivery?
 

SLCpod

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In the contracts that I have been given, there is always a specific timeframe you have to stay on for after you give notice. That's usually 90 days. Read your contract and there should be a section about this.
 
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dtrack22

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In the contracts that I have been given, there is always a specific timeframe you have to stay on for after you give notice. That's usually 90 days. Read your contract and there should be a section about this.

the contract can say you have to give X days of notice, but what is the penalty for doing so? I haven’t seen a contract that stops you from quitting any time you want. Who’s getting contracts that actually have some legally enforceable punishment or fine for not giving enough notice that you quit?

I had a contract that “required” 60 days notice. I didn’t want to give them 60 days notice and have them just fire me or tell me I was only gonna get 30. I gave them 3-4 weeks notice. And I didn’t even have to do that. The only recourse they had is that they could withhold any future production/bonus payments that would be due after the day I left. But that assumes you actually hit whatever production/bonus threshold the owner set.

I’ve never seen anything in a contract that can stop you from not showing up one day and never coming back. Just tell them you found a better opportunity and you’re last day is at the end of the month. And then have a letter with those dates and your signature on it and give it to the office manager. That’s all you do.
 

Utvolsdpm

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the contract can say you have to give X days of notice, but what is the penalty for doing so? I haven’t seen a contract that stops you from quitting any time you want. Who’s getting contracts that actually have some legally enforceable punishment or fine for not giving enough notice that you quit?

I had a contract that “required” 60 days notice. I didn’t want to give them 60 days notice and have them just fire me or tell me I was only gonna get 30. I gave them 3-4 weeks notice. And I didn’t even have to do that. The only recourse they had is that they could withhold any future production/bonus payments that would be due after the day I left. But that assumes you actually hit whatever production/bonus threshold the owner set.

I’ve never seen anything in a contract that can stop you from not showing up one day and never coming back. Just tell them you found a better opportunity and you’re last day is at the end of the month. And then have a letter with those dates and your signature on it and give it to the office manager. That’s all you do.
I’ve only heard of a contract that did so once - if the associate left early and didn’t complete the full 1 year they owed the practice 100k (or maybe even 150k?). Probably more than the contract was worth in the first place.
 
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NewPodGrad2019

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Two things I will add

#1 If you are going to give 30, 60 or 90 days notice, just make sure you have enough emergency funds to cover you for that time period. There is a chance you can be let go the next week or 2 after telling them you plan to quit. I am sure somewhere in your contract, it says employer can terminate at anytime. Of course you can lawyer up but what is the point. If you don't have an emergency fund then how are you going to pay for a lawyer. Forget all those TV adds, lawyers don't work for free.

#2 And please for heavens sake, make sure you have SIGNED a contract with the new job. No verbal offers or promises. Administrations change in a heart beat. Also before you quit, get your license if you are moving to a different state and make sure the new job have started your insurance credentialing, added you to their malpractice etc. That way you know for sure they are bringing you on. You don't want to give your current job any notice before signing your new contract then the new place change their mind last minute.

I will say 30-45 days notice is fine. 90 days is damm too long. Also don't book any surgery since you know you plan to leave soon.

Good luck and I believe you are making a great decision for finding a better paying job. Keep shooting for the stars.
 
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Thanks everyone. My contract does state 90 days is required for notice, but staying for 89 days after giving notice seems like it would be long and awkward. I know there’s also “patient abandonment” laws, but this is usually 30 days, right?
 

NewPodGrad2019

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You are not abandoning any patient, as you are an associate and do not own the practice. The other doctors are obligated to take over your patients. Technically the patient are not even yours, they are for the practice. That is why you have a non-compete clause. You cannot take your patient with you, they belong to the practice. Therefor you are not abandoning any patient.

As I said, after signing your contract, your personal emergency fund should determine how much notice you give. PUT YOURSELF FIRST. If your emergency funds can only take you for 2 or 4 weeks, wait till the end and give a 2 or 4 weeks notice. Just remember there is a chance you can let go immediately you give your notice. This is the real world.
 

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Two things I will add

#1 If you are going to give 30, 60 or 90 days notice, just make sure you have enough emergency funds to cover you for that time period. There is a chance you can be let go the next week or 2 after telling them you plan to quit. I am sure somewhere in your contract, it says employer can terminate at anytime. Of course you can lawyer up but what is the point.If you don't have an em ergency fund then how are you going to pay for a lawyer. Forget all those TV adds, lawyers don't work for free.

#2 And please for heavens sake, make sure you have SIGNED a contract with the new job. No verbal offers or promises. Administrations change in a heart beat. Also before you quit, get your license if you are moving to a different state and make sure the new job have started your insurance credentialing, added you to their malpractice etc. That way you know for sure they are bringing you on. You don't want to give your current job any notice before signing your new contract then the new place change their mind last minute.

I will say 30-45 days notice is fine. 90 days is damm too long. Also don't book any surgery since you know you plan to leave soon.

Good luck and I believe you are making a great decision for finding a better paying job. Keep shooting for the stars.
This is key advice...

Don't get hasty, and wait until the new deal is fully signed. It is rare, but just as with residency match, occasionally a private or MSG is feeding a few people the "you got the job" to keep them on the hook as backups in case their choice candidate drops out (or wants too much money). With hospitals or other places, the approval/funding for the position can fall through unexpectedly with leadership or financial changes. The point is, you never know.

I will add that it is very easy to just file in small claims court for 30 days pay (usually 5k-10k cap on small claims cases, depends on county)... costs less than $50 usually. You should definitely do this if you're ever fired, laid off, or let go right after you give your notice that you're leaving. You won't likely recoup 60 or 90 days in small claims for that reason (without an attorney to go to regular litigation... and attorney fees will eat up most of that extra $ over ~30days pay). The employer won't usually even go to small claims court if your claim is legit... they will likely just pay it to have you drop the case (since they don't want the mark on their business credit of a judgment against them). You can also file other small claims cases for any other stuff what was not paid (CME, hospital dues, etc that you may have paid and they still owed you for at time of departure).

This goes both ways, though... so I would be careful about giving short notice of quitting and just honor the contract and give 30 or 60 or 90days or whatever it says. You can end up with neutral/bad reference as well as owing them money. Skip out 30 days early on a 60 or 90 if you want or need to to meet the new employer's timeline, but you can almost bet the prior employer will withhold from your last check(s) and/or get a small claims order against you for that month of pay. They might also go after the longer timespans (eg, you give 2wks notice when it says 90day notice in the contract) if they already have an attorney on retainer and it won't cost them much to do so... many successful groups do. If they find out you're staying local, expect the non-compete to come into play also. This is a reference on your CV/apps as well as a place that gave you a job and exp, so it is almost always best to just offer to do the contracted notice (and offer to help them replace you, assuming the job was decent)... but yeah, if they cut you before that notice period is over, taking them to small claims in response is just following the contract, nothing personal.
 
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dtrack22

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#2 And please for heavens sake, make sure you have SIGNED a contract with the new job. No verbal offers or promises. Administrations change in a heart beat. Also before you quit, get your license if you are moving to a different state and make sure the new job have started your insurance credentialing, added you to their malpractice etc. That way you know for sure they are bringing you on. You don't want to give your current job any notice before signing your new contract then the new place change their mind last minute.

Yes. I shouldn't have assumed this was a given. But make sure you listen to the advice in the above post by newpodgrad
 

heybrother

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Ensure your transition by thinking ahead:

-Save, print, etc all of your surgeries, x-rays etc if you are going for board certification. Easier to take them with you than to call the last people and ask for them.

There's also something to be said for looking at your surgery encounters and trying to tie a bow around them when it appropriate... I did a lapidus awhile back that was going great. Returning to WB in normal shoe. Great correction but still using a boot at work because she had a job where she was on her feet and was early in the recovery. My office fired the patient's niece and she just quit following up. Someone stepped on her foot the other day and she presented just to make sure the surgery site was ok. I saw that as an opportunity complete her story - since I last saw her she's doing great, she's entirely returned to shoes, she has no complaints about swelling, her bunion hasn't recurred, and she'll continue to healing. I'm trying to own the narrative and get in front of those stories I hear about failing case review because the patient is still swollen...

-Protect your reputation and act in the best interest of your patients. This is patient and practice specific. If you are leaving behind some Austin's that are 3 weeks out and your partner just does forefoot, that's different than leaving behind a healing triple or an ex-fix case or a non-union that needs revision. I have no doubt that no shortage of practices have fired or watched associates walk away with patients still in the post-op. There's still a right and a wrong way to do things - try within reason to be more on the right side of things. Your "ex" will likely tear you to pieces after you are gone, but it will be more difficult for them if everyone you leave is looking great. My residency had 2 attendings who were in a constant state of warfare. If one of them had to see the other's post-op they always had something negative to say. Another podiatrist can probably always find a way to tear you down and the patient won't know any better. If you stay in the same town ensure you don't do anything to jeopardize your privileging. I can't give you any concrete examples of this ie. the patient runs back to the hospital and says "he abandoned me", but in the last 2 weeks 3 patients have told me their spouse a board member at a hospital I just got credentialed yet. I'm operating on 2 of them.

-Review your contract when it comes to the terms of leaving. Its always interesting to me the lawyer-contract discussions we have here. I think jokingly we focus on the "what will the job be like part" but the how do I quit really deserves equal billing. I'm pretty sure dtrack is really close to the mark. Even if notice is spelled out - unless there's a penalty as mentioned above there may be nothing to come of it. Look to see if the contract stipulates that you should be paid a percentage of collections which have been billed but not yet collected. My suspicion is that will be on the line if you leave early. If your new job is that much better the amount may be trivial.

-You may or may not owe tail. You should look for prior threads on this - dtrack and airbud both have interesting commentary on it. Keep this expense in mind when you remember your former practice. If they were such nice people, why are you throwing $$$s to the wind.

-Be prepared for many different possibilities when you give notice.

-They fire you on the spot. Consider having your desk already cleaned up gradually in the weeks before / take your text books home if you brought any with you.

-They want to work with you ie. ensure a smooth transition. Have a list of your post-ops already created with surgery, point in recovery etc. If your "notice" is 90 days, but you don't have any real post-ops left/ minimal global concerns the goal may just be to ensure an easy transition out in a shorter time period. Ask yourself - do I have any problem, crazy, weird, still working it up patients or problems. Have a plan to get any cases past the tricky point ie. leave when your lapidus is walking, not after the first post-op.

-They want to SCREW you. If you don't have a base and are just in some sort of collections based system - if you stay for 90 days they can schedule all new patients, all surgery patients, all matrixectomies on someone else's schedule. You'll be showing up for free seeing 5 people a day and trimming some nails and they can schedule you a patient at 8am and 5pm. I'm trying to be cynical here. Theoretically if you have a base this strategy likely fails since they won't want to pay you to do nothing.

The heart of all these things above really is - Don't stay 90 days. Have a plan to get out. Probably avoid booking big cases.

-Theoretically they should be concerned that you'll tell all the patients - hey, I'm leaving to go elsewhere, wait for me. I'm skeptical how that works since you won't be working for several months depending on how your insurance credentialing goes..

I'm skeptical there's any benefit telling them what you hate about the practice. You're leaving. People leave all the time.

-COBRA. If your practice is paying for health insurance you will have to pay the premiums yourself. Your new practice may have issues getting your insurance started early - often times you have to work at least 2-4 weeks before they can put you on it. Course, I'm assuming you are getting insurance but this is podiatry after all...

-If you have a 401k - you'll probably want to roll it over. The general direction of 401ks in general is towards overall improvement, but you might have better funds if you roll it into a Rollover IRA somewhere like Fidelity. This also could interfere with doing a backdoor IRA in the future if you are wealthy so be careful.
 
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CutsWithFury

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the contract can say you have to give X days of notice, but what is the penalty for doing so? I haven’t seen a contract that stops you from quitting any time you want. Who’s getting contracts that actually have some legally enforceable punishment or fine for not giving enough notice that you quit?

I had a contract that “required” 60 days notice. I didn’t want to give them 60 days notice and have them just fire me or tell me I was only gonna get 30. I gave them 3-4 weeks notice. And I didn’t even have to do that. The only recourse they had is that they could withhold any future production/bonus payments that would be due after the day I left. But that assumes you actually hit whatever production/bonus threshold the owner set.

I’ve never seen anything in a contract that can stop you from not showing up one day and never coming back. Just tell them you found a better opportunity and you’re last day is at the end of the month. And then have a letter with those dates and your signature on it and give it to the office manager. That’s all you do.
This might be true for private practice podiatry contracts but hospitals and other large organizations will get nasty if you leave before your notice period. I had a colleague who dragged out the contract renewal and ultimately turned it down after his current contract expired thinking the 6 month notice would not matter. Well it did and the hospital refused to pay tail coverage that had been agreed upon and penalized the doc financially for other nuances that were in the contract. So I would give notice as defined in the contract and just deal with it.
 
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DYK343

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This might be true for private practice podiatry contracts but hospitals and other large organizations will get nasty if you leave before your notice period. I had a colleague who dragged out the contract renewal and ultimately turned it down after his current contract expired thinking the 6 month notice would not matter. Well it did and the hospital refused to pay tail coverage that had been agreed upon and penalized the doc financially for other nuances that were in the contract. So I would give notice as defined in the contract and just deal with it.
This. Dont screw anyone over in such a small profession. Play by the books in these situations - even if they are screwing you over!

You can always remember them for treating you poorly. Power is in your hands. But you dont want it to be the other way around.
 

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