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I have no problem signing one (there is one in my current contract)because they are not legal for psychologists in my state (MA). Many states have similar regulations. In some states, the presence of one voids everything else in the contract. This is about “common good” of the public- restrictive covenants are seen as artificial barriers to the public accessing necessary service. MA just recently passed a law requiring a “garden clause” for all non-competes which requires the company to pay the ex-employee 50% salary to for the term of any enforced non-compete. Check the laws in your jurisdiction. If they were legal and enforceable, I’d think twice about signing one, but I think you’ll find that they are very often unenforceable/unenforceable.
 
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LadyHalcyon

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True. However, not adhering to a non-compete sounds like a great way to burn some bridges. Although there are usually other bridges......
I have no problem signing one (there is one in my current contract)because they are not legal for psychologists in my state (MA). Many states have similar regulations. In some states, the presence of one voids everything else in the contract. This is about “common good” of the public- restrictive covenants are seen as artificial barriers to the public accessing necessary service. MA just recently passed a law requiring a “garden clause” for all non-competes which requires the company to pay the ex-employee 50% salary to for the term of any enforced non-compete. Check the laws in your jurisdiction. If they were legal and enforceable, I’d think twice about signing one, but I think you’ll find that they are very often unenforceable/unenforceable.
 
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True. However, not adhering to a non-compete sounds like a great way to burn some bridges. Although there are usually other bridges......
Definitely a consideration. There’s also some unwritten understanding between agencies that it’s lame to pick off other people’s employees. However, you are correct that the bridge is often on fire for other reasons if an employer feels the need to down talk an employee to other employers over an illegal and unenforceable non-compete. I’m pretty confident that I could walk tomorrow and start working for the clinic across town with little negative ramifications related to the no-compete. They’re junk clauses in my state, put in there as kind of passive intimidation or a hope for ignorance. I’ve been around awhile and have heard a lot of rumors about people coming related to past employment, and I’ve NEVER HEARD anything along the lines of “can you believe s/he didn’t honor the no compete.” Also, trash talking an ex-employee to a potential future employer regarding an illegal contractual clause is probably just as illegal as the clause itself.
 
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PSYDR

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True. However, not adhering to a non-compete sounds like a great way to burn some bridges. Although there are usually other bridges......
Why would you care about offending someone who tries to prevent you from earning a living?
 
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LadyHalcyon

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There is a self-serving interest in me not wanting to offend someone who is a well-respected and well-known professional in the specific area of psychology I want to practice. But I do understand your perspective.
Why would you care about offending someone who tries to prevent you from earning a living?
 
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Signing a non-compete is a serious matter that can drastically impact your ability to make a living. Before doing so, you should really have an attorney review the contract and tell you what it all means, including what is enforceable or not.
 

PSYDR

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There is a self-serving interest in me not wanting to offend someone who is a well-respected and well-known professional in the specific area of psychology I want to practice. But I do understand your perspective.
Yeah, that’s the prevailing idea in our field. Surprise. I have a contrarian point of view.

Overall, this is a profession. Largely, this is defined as making money. Our field is really really really bad at ignoring this. I believe a large part of this behavior is based upon clinical psychs academic roots. Even though this doesn’t happen to the same degree in medicine.

1) If the person you’re talking about is “well known” for business stuff, they will never want to help you further than will benefit them unless you aggressively negotiate (I’ll offer a rec at the end). Working with them will not lead to you making a ton of money, having an easy time going into independent practice, getting time off (if you’re a revenue generating machine, they’ll want you to work as much as possible, and they’ll be reluctant to increase your wages because overhead increases), etc. So ultimately, this will be either an employed until not situation, or it turns contentious when you want to leave and they want to protect what they have been getting.

2) If the person is “well known” for academic things, this is essentially meaningless to revenue generation and therefore your life. Go look at what it pays to write a professional book or chapter. Does that sound like you’re better off doing that than doing clinical work? It doesn’t. So absent monetary effects, you’re just dealing with some people talking smack. If it’s just insulting, you hopefully have family, friends, or a therapist to deal with that. If it’s affecting your business, adults have legal ways to not only stop that behavior but also recoup lost income from that behavior.

I’d recommend someone in your position to:

A. Investigate if non competes are enforced in your state. If not. Sign away, laughing.

B. Have an attorney look over the contract. And revise. If the person is reasonable, they’ll understand. If not, you’ve just spent a few hundred to find out that they’re not someone to work with. I had big name try to get 50% of the proceeds of all of my work in a contract for one specific subarea in a specific location. I presented my revised contract which basically said “50% of revenue in this specific area of work, in this specific geographic location”, and he screamed at me. Nice try, buddy. I’m not giving you 6 figures off my plate because you’re mad.

C. Take a screenshot of your reviews, sign it, date it. Save documentation of revenue. Put it in a file, and forget it. When this goes bad, you now have documentation of what things were like before to prove damages. Say they go online and bash you. Say they talk smack about you to colleagues or patients. At what I am assuming your age, even losing $10k of business a year is huuuuuge, because it’s going into the next 30 years. I know, lawsuits sound really overboard. But this is the adult way to handle things when adults won’t discuss things reasonably.

D. Do some soul searching. I believe our field gives a lot of lip service to being assertive, but doesn’t do that for itself.
 
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B. Have an attorney look over the contract. And revise. If the person is reasonable, they’ll understand. If not, you’ve just spent a few hundred to find out that they’re not someone to work with.
Can’t emphasize this enough. If your employee is even minimally competent at business, you can bet your a** that they’ve had an attorney review (and likely draft) your employment contract. You need to do the same. Don’t ever assume that just because something is in there that it is legal or enforceable. I’ve seen and heard of some pretty ridiculous clauses. When I had a labor review recent employment contract for me, he basically laughed at ~25% of it and told me to not even worry about those portions. The rest he categorized as legit and relevant (~25%) and legit but irrelevant (~50%). If you go in and negotiate about the laughable or legit but irrelevant sections, any concessions you get are meaningless other than making it look like you are getting something that you are not. You need to focus negotiations on the legit and relevant stuff. When it comes to restrictive covenants, they can be in the laughable category (e.g. illegal or unreasonable in the eyes of the court). Case law is typically on the side of the employee in these matters, and employers know that. If an employee offers to reduce the terms of a non-compete during employment negotiations, they may be scamming you into thinking your are getting something meaningful.
 
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Here are some things to google so you are better informed on this stuff (note that you should add state names to your searches as things differ across jurisdictions):

Restrictive covenants
Reasonableness
Restriction of trade
Blue pencil rule
Red pencil rule
Garden clause
 

BuckeyeLove

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I've been dealing with this for the better part of the last 3 months. Was initially told I would get the ok to do work outside of my former employer, then they flip flopped saying no (passive aggressive much?). Cliff notes: My previous employers (who are also attorneys) know very well what they can and can't say or do in their work agreements, and know what parts they would likely win, versus likely lose, if it were to come to litigation. They essentially made it so I can't do any work for anyone in my state, if I'm not going to fight it. If I took it to court, I would win (I've gotten 3 different consults on this); however, I've come to conclude that it wouldn't be worth it in the long run, as I would essentially make an enemy out of these people, which I don't want to do. It's a very small circle I work in. If there's anything good that's come from it, or that I've taken from it, it's that I've had to tell multiple agencies/clients now that I can't work for them, and I can't lie, so I tell them the reason (respectfully and without throwing anyone under the bus of course), and they have all unequivocally not been happy about my situation, and have formed their own judgments (my own passive aggressiveness I guess). I've essentially come to terms with taking a year off from private work.
 
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AcronymAllergy

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I've been dealing with this for the better part of the last 3 months. Was initially told I would get the ok to do work outside of my former employer, then they flip flopped saying no (passive aggressive much?). Cliff notes: My previous employers (who are also attorneys) know very well what they can and can't say or do in their work agreements, and know what parts they would likely win, versus likely lose, if it were to come to litigation. They essentially made it so I can't do any work for anyone in my state, if I'm not going to fight it. If I took it to court, I would win (I've gotten 3 different consults on this); however, I've come to conclude that it wouldn't be worth it in the long run, as I would essentially make an enemy out of these people, which I don't want to do. It's a very small circle I work in. If there's anything good that's come from it, or that I've taken from it, it's that I've had to tell multiple agencies/clients now that I can't work for them, and I can't lie, so I tell them the reason (respectfully and without throwing anyone under the bus of course), and they have all unequivocally not been happy about my situation, and have formed their own judgments (my own passive aggressiveness I guess). I've essentially come to terms with taking a year off from private work.
Wow, that's unfortunate. It sounds like you at least have a "regular" full-time job that's unaffected?
 
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LadyHalcyon

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One year is something I would consider. This one is for 5 years! Also, I'm sorry you are having to deal with this headache.
I've been dealing with this for the better part of the last 3 months. Was initially told I would get the ok to do work outside of my former employer, then they flip flopped saying no (passive aggressive much?). Cliff notes: My previous employers (who are also attorneys) know very well what they can and can't say or do in their work agreements, and know what parts they would likely win, versus likely lose, if it were to come to litigation. They essentially made it so I can't do any work for anyone in my state, if I'm not going to fight it. If I took it to court, I would win (I've gotten 3 different consults on this); however, I've come to conclude that it wouldn't be worth it in the long run, as I would essentially make an enemy out of these people, which I don't want to do. It's a very small circle I work in. If there's anything good that's come from it, or that I've taken from it, it's that I've had to tell multiple agencies/clients now that I can't work for them, and I can't lie, so I tell them the reason (respectfully and without throwing anyone under the bus of course), and they have all unequivocally not been happy about my situation, and have formed their own judgments (my own passive aggressiveness I guess). I've essentially come to terms with taking a year off from private work.
 

Ollie123

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I signed one that essentially says I can't "take my patients with me" if I leave my large AMC without paying a financial penalty. Seems quite reasonable as non-competes go and unlikely to be an issue anyways since: A) Academia - if I leave, odds are it is for something across the country, not next door; and B) Insurance - aside from medicare/medicaid, most insurers are in-network with one hospital and OON with the others.

I can see some doomsday scenarios in which this becomes a problem (funding falls apart at an awkward time and they can't find enough clinical work to keep me on, so I have to find something outside the system while I wait for the next academic job market cycle), but it seems far-fetched enough I don't stress too much.

Honestly, we've also been hit with so much bad press lately I suspect they will be ignoring anyone who isn't costing them millions of dollars in an effort to keep under the radar. At least for a few years.
 
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MamaPhD

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I signed a weak noncompete (ie, likely unenforceable given what's missing from it) after negotiating away the more ridiculous bits. It was never brought up again, even when I was being recruited by another institution in the same area. My thought was that if it ever became an issue I would feel it worthwhile to fight it. But I seriously doubt it will.
 
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If I had any reason to think, pre-hire, that there was even the potential that an employer would engage me in a contentious legal battle over a non-complete, I’d think twice about working for that person.

You really have to do your research on these things (eg talk to an attorney, look up local case law). Employers aren’t likely to spend money fighting you in court over a non-enforceable/unreasonable restrictive covenant. They may have an attorney send you a legal looking letting, but actually suing you would be another thing. Outside of stealing proprietary info, it’s hard to prove damages. In the case of “don’t take our clients” clauses, courts have often ruled that citizens have the right to choose their doctors and have continuity of care and employer rules that interfere with that right are non-binding. YMMV, so check local regs and case law (and- say it again- have an attorney review your contracts before signing them).
 
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Will do. They just sent me their fee structure and of course they pay very well, which makes this decision even more difficult.
If I had any reason to think, pre-hire, that there was even the potential that an employer would engage me in a contentious legal battle over a non-complete, I’d think twice about working for that person.

You really have to do your research on these things (eg talk to an attorney, look up local case law). Employers aren’t likely to spend money fighting you in court over a non-enforceable/unreasonable restrictive covenant. They may have an attorney send you a legal looking letting, but actually suing you would be another thing. Outside of stealing proprietary info, it’s hard to prove damages. In the case of “don’t take our clients” clauses, courts have often ruled that citizens have the right to choose their doctors and have continuity of care and employer rules that interfere with that right are non-binding. YMMV, so check local regs and case law (and- say it again- have an attorney review your contracts before signing them).
 

temppsych123

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If I had any reason to think, pre-hire, that there was even the potential that an employer would engage me in a contentious legal battle over a non-complete, I’d think twice about working for that person.

You really have to do your research on these things (eg talk to an attorney, look up local case law). Employers aren’t likely to spend money fighting you in court over a non-enforceable/unreasonable restrictive covenant. They may have an attorney send you a legal looking letting, but actually suing you would be another thing. Outside of stealing proprietary info, it’s hard to prove damages. In the case of “don’t take our clients” clauses, courts have often ruled that citizens have the right to choose their doctors and have continuity of care and employer rules that interfere with that right are non-binding. YMMV, so check local regs and case law (and- say it again- have an attorney review your contracts before signing them).
Yes, it seems worthwhile to look up whether this practice/hospital/etc has been party to any litigation before - whether settled out of court or went to trial. Obviously not a foolproof system (especially if these folks are newer) but worth checking. You can also look into whether your state licensure board has released any statements or whether state laws would impact their ability to enforce, especially related to not taking clients with you - in some cases, if you are offering a specialized type of treatment or working with a unique population, it may be unethical to cease seeing someone as a client because you move employers when you would otherwise be able to continue to treat them, and their care would be substantially negatively impacted by not being able to see you. Again, not that you'd want to be litigating this down the line, but might be enough to scare off potential litigation depending on the circumstances.

Also, and this is totally just my own biased opinion, I can't imagine any scenario, in any industry, where a 5-year noncompete makes sense. How would you earn a living?? "You can only leave us if you move to another jurisdiction entirely"? Seems pretty sketch.
 
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Actually they have states in several offices, and it applies to 90 miles from all their locations.
Yes, it seems worthwhile to look up whether this practice/hospital/etc has been party to any litigation before - whether settled out of court or went to trial. Obviously not a foolproof system (especially if these folks are newer) but worth checking. You can also look into whether your state licensure board has released any statements or whether state laws would impact their ability to enforce, especially related to not taking clients with you - in some cases, if you are offering a specialized type of treatment or working with a unique population, it may be unethical to cease seeing someone as a client because you move employers when you would otherwise be able to continue to treat them, and their care would be substantially negatively impacted by not being able to see you. Again, not that you'd want to be litigating this down the line, but might be enough to scare off potential litigation depending on the circumstances.

Also, and this is totally just my own biased opinion, I can't imagine any scenario, in any industry, where a 5-year noncompete makes sense. How would you earn a living?? "You can only leave us if you move to another jurisdiction entirely"? Seems pretty sketch.
 

WisNeuro

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Will do. They just sent me their fee structure and of course they pay very well, which makes this decision even more difficult.
Do they pay on what you bill, or what you collect? Sometimes the multi-practice places bait and switch a little there.
 
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LadyHalcyon

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My only hesitancy is, from what I read, enforceability is largely related to ability to make an income. Technically, I could still practice as a psychologist locally, I just couldn't do the specific type of work they do.
90mi AND 5yrs?! Wow...i’d be *floored* if that isn’t thrown out immediately. Each state is different, but to be enforceable, non-compete clauses cannot be overly broad...and 90 & 5 is that by a lot.
 

WisNeuro

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Again, I wouldn't sign. But, I enjoy being a free agent to a large extent and to have all of my options available at any given time. One of the reasons I am without a contract at the current job. High pay, and I can leave anytime I want. They can fire me anytime they want, but that would be a bad move on their part considering how I built the clinic structure.
 
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LadyHalcyon

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Yes, I like autonomy. Considering I am just starting out, it is difficult to predict what my career will look like in 5 to 10 years. I see myself committing at least 30% of my time to forensic work, but I think I would like to have the ability to grow my own forensic division where I currently work. Then again, that may be a pipe dream and maybe I would be fulfilled doing forensic evaluations for someone else. Time to break out the magic 8 ball.
Again, I wouldn't sign. But, I enjoy being a free agent to a large extent and to have all of my options available at any given time. One of the reasons I am without a contract at the current job. High pay, and I can leave anytime I want. They can fire me anytime they want, but that would be a bad move on their part considering how I built the clinic structure.
 
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Therapist4Chnge

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I recently signed a 2yr non-compete, though I negotiated what I thought was reasonable for a very favorable financial package (top %-tile in my speciality): I can’t form a practice within 4mi from their offices. I can’t recruit staff w me for 1yr. I can’t directly market/recruit their regular referral sources for 2yrs.

I typically do not sign non-competes, but I decided this was okay bc if/when I leave, it will be for one of my side ventures (outside of the field). There is plenty of clinical & forensic work in my area and limited competition, so work is there if I want it.

My situation is probably not typical, but it allows me to earn a lot and also pursue my other interests enough that i’m not trapped even if I walk tomorrow.

I would not recommend signing a non-compete in most instances, particularly anything crazy like 5yr & 90mi...bc there is ZERO upside. In saturated markets it’s an even worse idea. It’s really important to know your value, as no practice/org is going to negotiate against themselves.
 
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LadyHalcyon

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Thank you for the advise. Although the money is appealing, I think the downsides far outweigh the pros. Since I'm just starting out I'm eager to "get going" in a sense, but I have to think of my career more like a marathon rather than a sprint.
I recently signed a 2yr non-compete, though I negotiated what I thought was reasonable for a very favorable financial package (top %-tile in my speciality): I can’t form a practice within 4mi from their offices. I can’t recruit staff w me for 1yr. I can’t directly market/recruit their regular referral sources for 2yrs.

I typically do not sign non-competes, but I decided this was okay bc if/when I leave, it will be for one of my side ventures (outside of the field). There is plenty of clinical & forensic work in my area and limited competition, so work is there if I want it.

My situation is probably not typical, but it allows me to earn a lot and also pursue my other interests enough that i’m not trapped even if I walk tomorrow.

I would not recommend signing a non-compete in most instances, particularly anything crazy like 5yr & 90mi...bc there is ZERO upside. In saturated markets it’s an even worse idea. It’s really important to know your value, as no practice/org is going to negotiate against themselves.
 
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LadyHalcyon

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Slightly related question. Is it common practice to have two names on an evaluation, even if the psychologist is licensed and able to practice independently? Do owners of large private practices often put their name on reports done by their employees?
 

MamaPhD

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Slightly related question. Is it common practice to have two names on an evaluation, even if the psychologist is licensed and able to practice independently? Do owners of large private practices often put their name on reports done by their employees?
This is sounding sketchier by the minute.
 

erg923

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Slightly related question. Is it common practice to have two names on an evaluation, even if the psychologist is licensed and able to practice independently? Do owners of large private practices often put their name on reports done by their employees?
Whats the purpose of the co-signature? They can't afford letterhead for the practice?

The practice of psychology is not a franchise. Ask questions. If questions raise problems.... that's a problem.

I left clinical service, and to some degree the field as whole, so I wouldn't have to deal with the nonsense. I am much happier now.
 
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The purpose is apparently because they have built a reputation among attorneys and the courts. The courts like having two "experts" signing off on the evaluation because it makes them feel more "comfortable." I was reviewing our ethics code and although it explicitly discusses publication credits in research, I couldn't find anything about assessments.

I have multiple thoughts in regard to having two signatures on the evaluation. First, I'm sure they are able to charge more if the owner's name is on the report due to the size and reputation of the practice. Additionally, if a psychologist were to try to obtain different employment and the new employer wanted a work sample then it would be challenging to prove the work sample was completely yours. Lastly, I'm wondering if having their signature, in addition to their name on the letterhead, gives them some legal advantage in terms of "evaluation property", although technically the report belongs to the client, which is often the Court.
Whats the purpose of the co-signature? They can't afford letterhead for the practice?

The practice of psychology is not a franchise. Ask questions. If questions raise problems.... that's a problem.

I left clinical service, and to some degree the field as whole, so I wouldn't have to deal with the nonsense. I am much happier now.
 

erg923

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The purpose is apparently because they have built a reputation among attorneys and the courts. The courts like having two "experts" signing off on the evaluation because it makes them feel more "comfortable." I was reviewing our ethics code and although it explicitly discusses publication credits in research, I couldn't find anything about assessments.

I have multiple thoughts in regard to having two signatures on the evaluation. First, I'm sure they are able to charge more if the owner's name is on the report due to the size and reputation of the practice. Additionally, if a psychologist were to try to obtain different employment and the new employer wanted a work sample then it would be challenging to prove the work sample was completely yours. Lastly, I'm wondering if having their signature, in addition to their name on the letterhead, gives them some legal advantage in terms of "evaluation property", although technically the report belongs to the client, which is often the Court.
I am no expert, especially in regard to forensic private practice. But, If you are ok with it, then fine. But sounds nuts/ridiculous.

Personally, I was once the TD of VA internship that was in the midst of initial APA accreditation, and was happy to be able to tell my Service Chief: "Thank you for your editorially contributions, Ill take it under advisement."

The APA self-study is NOT an exercise in Creative Writing...but, uh, thanks.

I didn't need her co-signature...and this was literally going to effect the institution for years to come. She was fine with my response.
 
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I’d be c
Slightly related question. Is it common practice to have two names on an evaluation, even if the psychologist is licensed and able to practice independently? Do owners of large private practices often put their name on reports done by their employees?
I’m guessing you’re career will be just find if you don’t get involved with this operation.
 
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AcronymAllergy

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If the owner(s) of the practice didn't actively participate in the actual evaluation, and you aren't working under their supervision, I don't see the rationale for their co-signature. As erg mentioned, their name is already associated with the report via their letterhead. I also don't see how having two signatures would be being indicative of any substantive advantage (e.g., "two experts") if they weren't involved in the evaluation. Even if they discussed the case with you, that's just...odd.

This, coupled with the ridiculous non-compete (assuming it's all the same practice), would cause me to walk away.
 
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If the owner(s) of the practice didn't actively participate in the actual evaluation, and you aren't working under their supervision, I don't see the rationale for their co-signature. As erg mentioned, their name is already associated with the report via their letterhead. I also don't see how having two signatures would be being indicative of any substantive advantage (e.g., "two experts") if they weren't involved in the evaluation. Even if they discussed the case with you, that's just...odd.

This, couple with the ridiculous non-compete (assuming it's all the same practice), would cause me to walk away.
Exactly my thought and what I shared in PM. I'd like to see the mental gymnastics required for some of the privately stated rationales on why the name had to be on there.
 
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Yes. Something is very off here. I've never personally seen that, but I'm not exactly a seasoned clinician so I wanted to check. My initial reaction was it seemed very odd, and possibly unethical.
 

Sanman

O.G.
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Sep 1, 2000
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Dreaming of Margaritaville
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Psychologist
Honestly, this seems like a larger practice built to take advantage of early career professionals. I have a few in my area of the field. Have you looked at workload expectations? I would bet they are very high relative to the compensation .
 
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LadyHalcyon

LadyHalcyon

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Oct 30, 2016
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Psychologist
Actually, I don't think that is necessarily the case. It may be for employees that have worked there for a while, but it was made clear to me cases are assigned based on senority and niche areas. Therefore, I could potentially only get 4 cases my first year. But yes, I agree with your first statement.
Honestly, this seems like a larger practice built to take advantage of early career professionals. I have a few in my area of the field. Have you looked at workload expectations? I would bet they are very high relative to the compensation .