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Will New FTC Ruling Cure Noncompete Woes for Doctors?

The recent FTC ruling banning noncompete clauses is shaking things up in the working world and it could for doctors too! This decision could be a major benefit for millions of American workers, not just high-powered professionals like doctors.

While noncompetes are often associated with lawyers, doctors, and salespeople, a surprising number (over 30 million!) impact lower-wage workers across various industries. The FTC estimates that the ban could lead to an average annual earnings increase of $574 for workers nationwide.

This week, I’ve heard tons of inquiries eager to understand how this FTC noncompete ruling might impact their careers as doctors. So, I’ve asked Jon Appino, Founder and CEO of Contract Diagnostics, one of our key resources, to weight in for us.

Over a decade in the business, Jon and his team have reviewed a staggering 2,000 contracts a year for physicians. I used them for my last contract re-negotiation! They understand the challenges and opportunities – how your unique story translates into better compensation.  Plus, if you’ve ever met him you know that Jon is a passionate physician advocate and firmly believes in fair compensation for doctors.

Anyway, that’s why I asked for his thoughts on what could be a game-changing decision by the FTC about the noncompete clause for doctors.

With that, I’ll let Jon address what we know at this point and then some of the most common questions we have been hearing.

The Buzz: Noncompetes on the Chopping Block?

In April 2024, the FTC voted to ban noncompete agreements for most workers. This means that clauses in your contract restricting you from working for a competitor might be unenforceable.

FTC noncompete doctors

Hold on a minute…

While the FTC’s noncompete ban is a step forward, legal interpretations are ongoing. And challenges have already been filed. Implementation could take up to 120 days to enter the Federal Register, with some predicting a longer wait for significant impact. High-earners might also be subject to exceptions.

The Noncompete Ban Explained

I envision physician lounges buzzing with the news of the FTC’s final noncompete rule. I would wager that the going sentiment is that “noncompetes are officially banned!” and “we all need to demand our contracts be modified right now!” But we all know that the information passed around in doctors’ lounge around the country is not always accurate

What Does This Mean for You?

  • Don’t jump ship just yet! Carefully review your contract and consult a physician contact expert to understand your situation. Legal challenges are delaying its impact. Due to lawsuits, it could take months (best case) or years (or never) to implement.
  • The FTC ruling doesn’t give you an automatic “get out of jail free” card. There may be other contractual obligations you need to fulfill.
  • This could be an opportunity to renegotiate your contract for better compensation or working conditions.

Turning the Tables

  • Use the FTC ruling as leverage when negotiating with a new employer. Highlight your skills and experience to secure a more favorable package.
  • The long-term impact on salaries is still unclear. However, increased competition for talent could lead to higher wages over time.

Stay Informed, Make Wise Decisions

  • Proceed with caution! While the ruling presents an opportunity, consider all factors before making major career moves.
  • Consult with a state-specific attorney specializing in employment law. They can advise you on your specific situation and the implications of the FTC ruling.


  • The ruling doesn’t apply to non-profit organizations, including many hospitals, at this point in the decision, but there is much more to come.
  • This is a rapidly evolving situation. Stay informed by following reputable legal and business news sources.

Will this increase compensation?

This is the real question, right? If noncompetes are eliminated for doctors after the FTC decision, our leverage and power increases in negotiations. Not having a non-compete definitely helped me in my latest contract negotiations.

Let’s take a look at some factors

Location and Specialization Matter: Factors like your geographic location and job specialization will still significantly determine your earning potential. For example, a doctor in a high-demand specialty practicing in a major city might see less impact from this ruling than a lower-wage worker in a different field.

Estimates Don’t Tell the Whole Story: Published estimates like “8,500 new businesses” and “$574 average annual increase” can be misleading. Opening a new practice might not be attractive for many established professionals due to increased costs, and the average increase might not translate significantly for high earners like doctors.

What should doctors do as a result of this FTC noncompete decision?

There are really many situations doctors can find themselves in after this ruling, especially with some of the uncertainty around it as we discussed above.

Let’s look at some of these situations…

Existing Contracts

Should I sign this contract now or wait 120 days for it to be effective?

The FTC ruling takes effect 120 days after it’s published in the Federal Register (likely around August 2024). You can still sign a contract, but the noncompete clause might be unenforceable after the effective date. We expect this decision to be tied up in court for months to years. 

They can’t enforce the noncompete anymore, right?

The FTC’s ban on noncompete clauses for many workers is a big step, but there’s a catch. Legal challenges are delaying its enforcement. While the final outcome is uncertain, existing noncompete clauses for most workers will likely be unenforceable once the ruling takes effect.

Taking Action:

Can I leave my job now?

The ruling doesn’t automatically give you the right to leave your job. You may have other contractual obligations to fulfill, and depending on its terms, breaking your contract could still have consequences. Reviewing your contract and potentially consulting with a physician contract expert before taking any drastic steps is important.

Should I renegotiate my contract to remove the noncompete clause?

The FTC’s noncompete ban is a positive step, but its legal challenges mean the wait for enforcement could be months or even years. Until then, employers might still enforce existing noncompete clauses.

However, this situation could be an opportunity for you, especially if your contract is nearing its end. With the FTC ruling weakening noncompete clauses, your employer might be more willing to negotiate.  Use this as leverage to secure a raise, better benefits, or other concessions you value during contract talks. Remember, legal advice is always best for your specific situation.

Leveraging the Opportunity:

How can I leverage this ruling to get a better deal at a new practice?

You may have greater negotiating power and more freedom to move between jobs. Highlight your skills and experience to secure a better compensation package or working conditions.

Will this lead to a bidding war for my services?

It’s possible, particularly for in-demand specialties in certain locations. However, this isn’t guaranteed. With the right perspective and approach, there’s always room for negotiation, even in your current situation.

What are the long-term implications of this ruling on physician compensation?

The long-term impact is still unclear. However, increased competition for physician talent could lead to upward salary pressure over time.

Making Decisions:

Should I wait before deciding about my career or signing a contract?

It’s wise to proceed with caution.  While the ruling presents an opportunity, consider all factors before making major career moves. It’s best to discuss your options with a physician contract expert. 

The Takeaway: Knowledge is Power

Forget noncompetes; the FTC ruling opens your window to negotiate a better physician contract in general!

By staying informed, seeking professional guidance, and taking a strategic approach, you can leverage this opportunity to secure the compensation and work environment you deserve. While the legalities are still unfolding, it presents an opportunity for professionals to take a more proactive approach to their careers.

However, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a magic bullet

Success in the new landscape will require strategic planning and a clear understanding of your rights. By staying informed, developing valuable skills, and building a strong network, you can leverage the FTC ruling to your advantage and take control of your professional destiny.

The key takeaway is to approach this situation with both optimism and prudence.  You can navigate this new landscape and secure your desired career path by taking calculated steps and continuously honing your professional expertise!

And with that, I’d like to thank Jon from Contract Diagnostics for sharing this super helpful information! It is an exciting time but a lot remains to be figured out.

Regardless, like he says, you need to stay proactive to ensure that you are securing a fair value for your professional work. If you are interested, you can schedule a free consultation with Contract Diagnostics or use their Compensation Rx tool to define your value today.

In the meantime, here are some additional resources to help you make sure you are optimizing your contract!

What do you think? What impact does the FTC noncompete decision have on doctors? Will it apply to us? Will it impact your contract negotiations? Let me know in the comments below!

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

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