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Profiling Employers Who Will Hire Doctors As A Contractor

We estimate that 25% of doctors are performing working as independent contractors. And thus, around 1/4 of us are receiving 1099 income. This is not because you are a workaholic, but rather it is because the physician labor market is changing. Dr. Tod Stillson is at the head of this charge with his innovative PC-employment lite practice model that I have reviewed before here. But a key factor with this employment model which I have explored is the employer. So I asked Tod to help us in profiling potential employers who will hire doctors as a contractor!

Take it away Tod!

25% of Doctors Currently Work As Independent Contractors

I spoke to a cardiology fellow recently about helping him form a professional micro-corporation as a foundation for his career. He told me about his initial work plans:

“I plan to do remote work-reading cardiology imaging PLUS a 0.9 FTE contractor-employment lite position with a large corporate employer—OR do the remote reading of cardiology images PLUS a locum job. In either case, I plan to move closer to my family on the East Coast.”

What I find revealing about this cardiologist is that he represents the new normal for younger doctors. Their work splits among stackable sources that all fuel a preferred lifestyle that is location independent of their work.

Young physicians will split their jobs among stackable sources that all fuel a preferred lifestyle that is location independent of their work”

I have written about this mindset in a blog post at my website. But this is what the future looks like for most young working doctors:

hire doctors contractors

One of the things that I especially liked about our conversation was his resolve to find a practice that would hire doctors to work as a contractor. And this included positions that were originally framed as traditional employment. There were 3 employers especially interested in him. But his litmus test for any next steps was that they had to be willing to hire him as a long-term contractor. This would be via an employment lite agreement, rather than as a traditional employee.

I love the fact that he was demanding to be viewed as an independent contractor in the marketplace

And he was aware that this was a relatively hidden space between traditional employment and complete independence. It is employment lite. And you often find it on the hidden menu for employers. In other words, you won’t see it unless you ask for it.

Admittedly, he learned this from my new book “Doctor Incorporated: Stop The Insanity of Traditional Employment and Preserve Your Professional Autonomy.”

The bottom line is that as a new attending physician, an employment lite contract rather than a traditional employment contract was the required framework for any employer who wanted his professional services. If they wanted to hire him, they would have to be willing to do this. They would need to form a PSA contract with him through his professional micro-corporation.

Here is an image of what an employment lite agreement looks like:

employment lite

You will note that he structure is nearly exactly like traditional employment contracts. But the difference is that this is a business-to-business contract that uses your professional micro-corporation as the contracting entity for your professional services.

Taking back control

We have passed through a period of time in which our tribe passively allowed large corporate employers to define our professional identity as employed workers. And the result was a hibernation of our special powers to incorporate and identify as an independent contractor.

This employee mindset has become so dominant within the physician labor market. In fact, many doctors either don’t know or have forgotten that they have the power to form a professional micro-corporation.

On top of that, due to the general business illiteracy of our tribe, many assume a professional micro-corporation means “private practice.” And therefore quickly dismiss the idea. That is because modern doctors prefer having a stable paycheck and not having to run a business. But neither is possible in private practice.

However, a single-member professional micro-corporation is not like “traditional private practice”. It is a virtual entity that essentially mirrors you. And you can use it as a contracting entity in any job that you can individually perform—including traditional employment. This progressive professional micro-corporation replaces the old traditional private practice model of professional incorporation.

professional corporations for doctors

Ultimately it preserves your professional autonomy and provides you greater freedom to independently contract out your professional services to a number of stackable jobs.

In essence, it aligns better with the modern doctors’ work mindset:

Young physicians will split their jobs among stackable sources that all fuel a preferred lifestyle that is location independent of their work”

Working on your terms

You have to resolve to adapt to the marketplace. You can’t allow corporate employers to define your identity by reducing your hard-earned status as a professional to an “employed worker”. Because there are multiple benefits to employment, I don’t think you should just avoid jobs within these corporations—you just to do it smarter.

You need to adaptively engage in employment in a way that allows you to preserve your professional autonomy. This keeps your professional identity within your control. Employees are controlled workers, contractors are not controlled workers. It’s that simple. In essence, when you embrace this mindset, you signal to corporate employers that a new modern physician labor model is now in play. You expect to follow this paradigm. One that allows you to control and define the type of worker that you are—an employee or a contractor.

modern physician model

You have the power

Every doctor in America has this same power to incorporate themself as a virtual business. It is built into the architecture of your training as a service professional. And you just have to be reminded and informed that you have this special power. Your medical school, residency, and employers are not going to tell you about it. You have to learn for yourself to unlock it.

But, the time has come to begin a systemic movement of change that comes from our tribe to take back control of our professional lives.

It all begins with starting your own virtual professional micro-corporation. I believe if every medical resident or fellow in America did this, it would form the foundation of a national movement within the physician labor space. My simple effort at helping to propagate this movement is by making my book free to download for every resident and fellow here. Most doctors who read my book say they can’t get it out of their minds.

If you are an attending physician already, you have the same power. It doesn’t matter if you are already employed, or even a partnership/group practice. Starting a virtual professional micro-corporation and using it in your current job will benefit you.

If employers want your services, they must do it on your terms, not theirs.

Let’s take back control of your professional medical services!

I hope my content and this cardiology fellow’s story inspire the same action in you. You should demand and expect that those who employ you not force you to sign up as a traditional employee. But instead that they provide you the professional option of traditional employment or employment lite. I would recommend you choose the latter. Largely because of how it preserves your professional autonomy and helps you live your best professional life!

If you are searching for a job, I invite you to let your recruiter know that you intend to work as an independent contractor. Tell them you will only entertain positions from employers who are willing to do employment lite agreements and hire doctors as a contractor. And if you are currently employed and want to convert to an employment lite contract within your current job, you will have to approach your administrator about this transition. 

Having worked with a large number of doctors over the years with SimpliMD, I am familiar with the profile of employers who are willing to consider this—and those that are unwilling gatekeepers.

Let’s take a glance at those employers that are more likely to offer this option to you.

Profiles of employers who will do employment lite agreements and hire doctors as a contractor

First of all, the larger the healthcare system, the less flexible they will be with this progressive employment arrangement. They prefer standardized traditional employment contracts that keep them in control. They consider contracted labor a more expensive version of physician labor (which is a myth in regards to employment lite)

Here are a few characteristics of employers that commonly associate with such arrangements.

1. Healthcare Networks or Systems

Larger healthcare networks or systems often have the infrastructure and resources to implement Employment Lite Agreements. These organizations may operate multiple hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. And they are more likely to have the capacity to explore alternative employment models and frequently use Employment Lite Agreements as a bridge for assimilating private practices and independent doctors into their system. It may not be in their initial contract menu if you are a new attending. You will have to specifically ask for it.

2. Academic Medical Centers

Academic medical centers, often with universities, tend to be at the forefront of innovation in healthcare. They may be more inclined to experiment with Employment Lite Agreements to attract and retain talented physicians while offering them opportunities for research, teaching, and professional development. Due to the multiple roles and income channels associated with your professional work a professional micro-corporation is a highly beneficial structure here.

3. Medical Groups or Practices

Some medical groups or practices may adopt Employment Lite Agreements as a means to accommodate physicians who desire more flexibility in their work arrangements. These groups may specialize in specific areas of medicine, such as primary care, specialty care, or urgent care. You can even use your professional micro-corporation to own the shares within a medical group or partnership. So don’t assume this must be as an individual. Businesses can own shares in another business. And there can be tax and income advantages to organizing it in this manner.

4. Rural or Underserved Areas

Corporations operating in rural or underserved areas may be more open to Employment Lite Agreements as a way to address the challenges of recruiting and retaining physicians in these regions. These arrangements can provide an incentive for doctors to work in areas with limited access to healthcare services, rather than choosing traditional employment in a more urban area.

5. Telemedicine Companies

With the rise of telemedicine and virtual healthcare, some corporations specializing in telemedicine may be interested in Employment Lite Agreements—especially since they typically view doctors as 1099 independent contractors anyway. These companies often leverage technology to deliver medical services remotely. So they may seek flexible arrangements with doctors who can provide care through their platform.

6. Startups or Innovative Healthcare Ventures

Emerging startups or innovative ventures in the healthcare industry may be open to exploring Employment Lite Agreements as part of their business model. These organizations often focus on disrupting traditional healthcare models. They may be willing to experiment with different employment structures to attract medical professionals.

Let’s force change

It’s important to note that the specific profile of corporations willing to engage in Employment Lite Agreements with doctors can vary depending on the regional healthcare landscape, prevailing regulations, and market dynamics. Additionally, the acceptance and prevalence of Employment Lite Agreements may evolve over time as the healthcare industry continues to adapt to new challenges and demands.

I want to inspire you to ignite a revolution to take back control of our profession.

Your first step is to form a professional micro-corporation. I suggest you do this with a company like SimpliMD which works exclusively with physicians to do this. And we also specializes in helping doctors set up employment lite agreements.

Next steps

Jordan here again!

I always love learning from Tod. Like I said, this is an option I am exploring and think it is worthwhile for all doctors to at least look into.

If you are interested in learning more, check out Tod’s book, “Doctor Incorporated: Stop The Insanity of Traditional Employment and Preserve Your Professional Autonomy” (If you are a resident or fellow, you can download a copy for free here.)

You can also schedule a free call with Tod here.

And if you want to learn more about employment contracts, profiling opportunities that will hire doctors as a contractor, or overall optimizing your practice, these posts can help!

What do you think? Should practices hire doctors as a contractor? How can we identify those that will hire doctors as a contractor? 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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