Secondary Employment Clauses for PAs: 4 Considerations

Physician Assistant Employment Secondary Employment Clauses

Secondary Employment Clauses for PAs: 4 Considerations

The role of Physician Assistants (PAs) in healthcare has evolved significantly, making them an integral part of medical teams. As the demand for PAs grows, understanding the nuances of their employment contracts, especially secondary employment clauses, becomes crucial. These clauses have a profound impact on the career trajectory and work-life balance of PAs.

The Rise of Physician Assistants in Healthcare

  • Growth and Significance:
    • The healthcare sector has experienced a significant increase in the employment of Physician Assistants (PAs). This growth is a testament to the expanding roles and responsibilities that PAs are taking on in healthcare settings.
    • According to a report on Growth Trends in PA Employment, the physician assistant profession is projected to expand rapidly. This trend reflects the increasing reliance on PAs to deliver a wide range of medical services, from primary care to specialized procedures.
    • The expansion in the scope of practice for PAs has been facilitated by changes in healthcare laws and regulations, allowing them to perform more complex medical tasks and provide high-quality care to a larger patient population.
  • Employment Projections:
    • The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a significant 31% growth in PA employment from 2020 to 2031. This projection highlights the burgeoning demand for these healthcare professionals.
    • The projected growth rate for PAs significantly outpaces that of many other healthcare roles, underscoring the increasingly critical role PAs play in the healthcare system.
    • Factors contributing to this growth include an aging population, the expansion of healthcare services, and the cost-effectiveness of employing PAs in various healthcare settings. The ability of PAs to provide high-quality care in both primary and specialized medical fields is a key driver of this demand.

Decoding Secondary Employment Clauses

  • Definition and Purpose:
    • Secondary employment clauses in PA contracts are specifically designed to outline the terms and conditions under which a Physician Assistant (PA) can engage in work outside their primary job. These clauses serve multiple purposes:
      • Protecting Primary Employer’s Interests: They are primarily aimed at safeguarding the interests of the primary employer. This includes preventing conflicts of interest and ensuring that the PA’s primary job responsibilities are not compromised.
      • Balancing PA’s Rights: At the same time, these clauses are structured to respect and balance the PA’s right to seek additional employment opportunities. This aspect is crucial for PAs looking to expand their professional experience or supplement their income.
    • The effectiveness of these clauses lies in their ability to maintain a harmonious balance between the employer’s needs and the PA’s professional growth.
  • Legal Perspective:
    • From a legal standpoint, secondary employment clauses must adhere to certain standards to be considered valid and enforceable:
      • Clarity and Reasonableness: The clauses should be clear in their language and reasonable in their demands. Vague or overly restrictive clauses may not stand up in legal scrutiny.
      • Enforceability: They must be enforceable within the legal framework of the state where the PA practices. This includes compliance with state-specific laws governing employment and contract agreements.
      • Stipulations Included: Common stipulations in these clauses often address:
        • Conflict of Interest: Ensuring that the PA’s secondary employment does not interfere or conflict with their primary role.
        • Patient Care Standards: Maintaining high standards of patient care across both primary and secondary roles.
        • Workload Management: Ensuring that the additional workload from secondary employment does not negatively impact the PA’s performance in their primary job.

Impact of Non-Compete Clauses on PAs

Explanation of Non-Compete Clauses:

  • Non-compete clauses are contractual agreements commonly included in PA employment contracts. Their primary function is to restrict a PA’s ability to engage in competing professional activities, typically within a specific geographical area and for a certain period after leaving their primary job.
  • These clauses are designed to protect the employer’s business interests by preventing the possibility of a departing PA taking patients, proprietary knowledge, or trade secrets to a direct competitor.
  • For a more detailed understanding of how these clauses work and their implications, PAs can refer to resources like Understanding Non-Compete Clauses.
  • It’s important for PAs to carefully review and understand the specifics of these clauses, including the defined geographical scope, duration, and any particular restrictions or conditions.

Federal and State Regulations:

  • The enforceability and legality of non-compete clauses vary significantly from state to state, making it a complex aspect of employment law.
    • Stringent State Laws: Some states have strict regulations that limit or even prohibit the enforcement of non-compete agreements, especially if they are deemed overly restrictive or unfair to the employee.
    • More Lenient States: Conversely, other states are more lenient, allowing broader enforcement of these clauses.
  • PAs must be acutely aware of the laws in their specific state and any state they consider working in. This knowledge is crucial, especially for those who work in or are considering opportunities in multiple states.
  • Understanding these legal nuances can help PAs navigate their career paths more effectively, ensuring they do not inadvertently breach their contractual obligations or limit their future employment opportunities unnecessarily.

Training Repayment Agreements: A Hidden Trap?

  • Understanding the Agreements:
    • Training repayment agreements are contractual obligations that require Physician Assistants (PAs) to reimburse their employer for training costs if they leave their job within a specified period. These agreements are becoming increasingly common in healthcare settings.
    • The purpose of these agreements is to protect the employer’s investment in the PA’s training and development. They are often used in situations where the employer provides specialized or extensive training that enhances the PA’s skills and qualifications.
    • The specifics of these agreements can vary widely, including the amount to be repaid, the circumstances under which repayment is required, and the time frame for the obligation.
    • It is essential for PAs to thoroughly understand the terms of these agreements. This includes the total potential repayment amount, the duration of the commitment, and any conditions that might trigger the repayment clause.
  • Impact on Secondary Employment:
    • Training repayment agreements can significantly influence a PA’s career trajectory, particularly their ability to pursue secondary employment opportunities.
    • Financial Burden: These agreements can create a substantial financial obligation, which might deter PAs from leaving their primary job, even if more attractive or lucrative opportunities arise elsewhere.
    • Career Flexibility: The presence of a training repayment agreement can limit a PA’s flexibility in changing jobs or pursuing different career paths. This is especially relevant in dynamic healthcare environments where opportunities for advancement or specialization might require a change of employment.
    • Evaluating Opportunities: It is crucial for PAs to carefully evaluate these agreements before signing their contracts. This evaluation should include considering future career plans, the likelihood of wanting to pursue other opportunities, and the potential impact on financial stability.

Navigating Secondary Employment Successfully for Physician Assistants

Evaluating Contract Provisions: What to Look For

In the realm of secondary employment, understanding and negotiating your contract is key. Physician Assistants should be vigilant about certain provisions:

  • Scope of Practice:
    • Ensure that the contract clearly defines your role and responsibilities. This clarity helps in avoiding conflicts between primary and secondary employment.
    • It’s important to understand the limits of your professional duties and ensure they align with your qualifications and state regulations.
  • Restrictive Covenants:
    • Pay close attention to non-compete clauses and confidentiality agreements. These can limit your employment opportunities post-termination.
    • Review the geographical scope and duration of these clauses to ensure they are reasonable and do not unduly restrict your future employment options.
  • Compensation and Benefits:
    • Understand how your secondary job will impact your overall compensation, including benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and malpractice insurance.
    • Consider how the additional income will affect your tax situation and whether the benefits package aligns with your long-term financial goals.
  • Termination Clauses:
    • Be aware of the conditions under which your contract can be terminated, both from your end and the employer’s end. This knowledge is crucial for maintaining job security.
    • Understand the notice period requirements and any potential penalties or obligations on termination, such as repayment of training costs.

Balancing Primary and Secondary Employment

Managing two jobs can be challenging but rewarding. Here are strategies to maintain a balance:

  • Time Management:
    • Efficiently managing your time is crucial. Prioritize tasks and set clear boundaries between your primary and secondary roles.
    • Utilize tools and techniques like calendar blocking and task prioritization to ensure you meet your responsibilities in both roles without overextending yourself.
  • Legal and Ethical Considerations:
    • Always adhere to ethical standards and legal requirements. Avoid conflicts of interest and maintain patient confidentiality across both employments.
    • Stay informed about the legal regulations in your state regarding secondary employment and ensure that your secondary job does not violate any terms of your primary employment.
  • Work-Life Balance:
    • It’s essential to balance professional commitments with personal life. Ensure that your secondary job doesn’t adversely affect your well-being or family life.
    • Regularly assess your stress levels and overall health, and be prepared to make adjustments to your work commitments if necessary to maintain a healthy balance.

FAQs Section

What are the Legal Implications of Secondary Employment for Physician Assistants?

Secondary employment for PAs can have several legal implications, particularly regarding non-compete clauses and confidentiality agreements. It’s crucial for PAs to understand state-specific laws governing these aspects to ensure they don’t breach their primary employment contract or face legal consequences.

How Can Physician Assistants Negotiate Better Terms in Their Secondary Employment Contracts?

PAs should focus on clearly understanding the contract terms, especially around scope of work, compensation, and termination clauses. It’s advisable to seek legal counsel or a contract negotiation expert to discuss potential improvements or modifications before signing.

Are There Restrictions on the Type of Secondary Employment a Physician Assistant Can Pursue?

Yes, restrictions often exist based on the primary employment contract. These may include limitations on working with direct competitors or engaging in work that could create a conflict of interest. PAs should review their primary contract and consult with their employer or legal advisor.

What Should Physician Assistants Consider When Balancing Primary and Secondary Employment?

PAs should consider time management, potential burnout, and ethical considerations. Balancing patient care responsibilities and personal well-being is crucial. They should ensure that secondary employment doesn’t negatively impact their primary job performance or personal life.

How Do Training Repayment Agreements Affect Secondary Employment Opportunities for PAs?

Training repayment agreements might financially bind PAs to their primary employer for a specified period. This can limit their ability to pursue secondary employment opportunities. PAs should carefully evaluate these agreements’ terms and consider their long-term career plans.


For Physician Assistants, navigating the complexities of secondary employment requires a careful balance of legal understanding, ethical practice, and personal well-being. By thoroughly understanding their contracts, being aware of legal implications, and managing their time and responsibilities effectively, PAs can successfully integrate secondary employment into their careers. This not only enhances their professional experience but also ensures they continue to provide the highest standard of care in their primary roles. As the PA profession continues to evolve, being informed and proactive about employment options will remain a key component of career success.