Residency Contracts

As part of the residency interview process, programs send applicants copies of residency contracts to review. Familiarize yourself with the following resources as you review residency contracts and benefits packages. This will help you compare programs as part of your rank order list decision-making process.

AMA provides information on understanding employment contracts

While most of the information on their public site is for an attending’s first job, there is some information on residency contracts in the “members only” content.

Most Important Parts of a Resident Doctor Employment Agreement

The excerpts that follow are from “Understanding Your Resident Doctor Employment Agreement” by Justin Nabity, Nov 4th 2022.

There are a variety of standard terms that employment agreements include. Here are the most important parts to look out for:

Terms of Your Employment

Your contract should clearly spell out the terms of your employment. This includes the start and end dates of your residency and the location of your work. This portion of your contract should also include information regarding your shifts and the hours/days/schedule you will work.


Employment agreements will also include the details of your salary. Depending on the hospital, they may offer you a “resident stipend” in your third year of residency. This is a way to encourage junior resident doctors to stay with the hospital they’re training with once they’re certified and licensed to practice independently.

You will not see a medical resident stipend in your first two years of residency. If you are presented with one down the line, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons. It can be tempting to want to pocket that extra salary, but it will lock you into working in your teaching hospital, even after your residency is complete.

Your employment agreement will also include information about PTO, sick days, and vacation days, as well as any health insurance or other benefits you will receive.


Like all physicians, residents are bound by strict rules and regulations. Resident employment agreements should include all of the details of those rules, and any specific standards you must abide by.

All of the rules and regulations you must comply with they should spell out in-depth, as should any necessary credentialing requirements.

The credentialing process is how hospitals verify that you are eligible to work as a resident. This includes providing proof of your medical school diploma, providing evidence that legally you can work in the U.S., and proving that you have the immunizations required to work at the hospital.

Some hospitals also perform background checks, health screenings, and drug screenings as part of the credentialing process.


Residents are not expected to carry their own medical malpractice insurance. The hospital you work for will cover that.

If there are any other types of insurance required, your contract will detail whether the resident or the hospital will pay for additional insurance coverage.

Termination Clause

The termination clause is one of the most critical terms in any contract. This will explain the rights and obligations of both the hospital and the medical resident, should the hospital want to fire you or should you wish to leave before the contract ends.

“Other Provisions”

It is common for contracts to list a variety of “other provisions” you must abide by as a resident. These include things such as how you handle medical records, which laws you must comply with, and the state’s governing legislation.

Red Flags to Look Out For in Your Employment Contract

The excerpts that follow are from “Understanding Your Resident Doctor Employment Agreement” by Justin Nabity, Nov 4th 2022.

Knowing what should be in your employment contract is just as important as knowing what should not be included. Here are some red flags to look for before signing your agreement:

The Inclusion of Non-Competes and Restrictive Covenants

It is common for physician contracts to include a variety of non-compete and restrictive covenants. These prohibit new doctors from soliciting patients when they move to a new practice or employer. These covenants include things like mileage restrictions. For example, you may not be allowed to work within a 20 mile radius of the hospital for two years.

Resident contracts do not typically include restrictive covenants. You will, however, likely see a confidentiality clause in your employment agreement. This is standard. Most medical resident confidentiality agreements stipulate that you must keep all information related to the hospital and its patients confidential. As a resident, you must abide by state and federal privacy laws and HIPPA laws at all times.

Missing Information

Your employment agreement must include information regarding hours, scheduling, compensation, benefits, and termination.

If any of these elements are missing from your contract, there could be serious consequences once you start working.

University of Washington Student Legal Services is an on-campus law office that provides consultation for students who have legal questions or concerns.

You are eligible to use their services for a residency contract review if:

  • The residency is not part of the University of Washington system
  • You are enrolled for the current quarter and have paid the UW Services and Activities fee

It’s unclear if Student Legal Services can review contracts for residency programs outside of Washington State. You are encouraged to start the intake process so your request may be reviewed.

Additional residency contract review resources that may be of help:

The following articles provide helpful background and tips to consider when considering residency contracts