Me vs. My Employer – When Do Nurse Practitioners Need an Attorney?

By Guest Contributor Leigh Ann O’Neill for Lauth O’Neill Physician Agency

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants play an increasingly important role in the healthcare landscape. Studies have demonstrated that despite misconceptions concerning their perceived abilities, non-physician practitioners (NPPs) or advanced practice providers can perform the majority of tasks that physicians can, while providing a high quality of care at a lower cost. Because of the many benefits achieved by employing NPs and PAs, practices throughout the country are increasingly taking advantage of all that these providers can offer.

There are presently about 155,000 NPs and 83,600 PAs practicing in the US. Earning base salaries of around $100k fresh out of training, there is no doubt that advance practice providers are highly valued and in-demand. And why shouldn’t they be? NPs and PAs receive extensive formal education and complete additional years of grueling training before entering the work-force. Given the parallels between advanced practice providers and physicians and a looming physician shortage in this country, NPs and PAs are positioned to command the utmost respect to ensure that their employment needs are met. However, these providers are often overly-eager to accept employment offers and “seal the deal” as quickly as possible without engaging in any negotiation. Advanced practice providers regularly accept the first employment offer that they receive, and do not seek legal guidance concerning their employment contracts.

This is entirely understandable – not only are you eager to start working (i.e. start getting paid), relationships with potential employers are often very friendly, with both parties expressing a great deal of optimism. Therefore, many have a mindset of believing that the employer has their best interests at heart and do not feel it necessary to seek counsel. While it wouldn’t be fair to say that potential employers don’t have your best interests at heart, it is more important and accurate to realize that an employer’s first priority is always the employer – no question about it.

Unsurprisingly, the employment contract that is offered to you will have been drafted by an attorney who represents the employer, and therefore will most certainly be drafted in a way to be most favorable to the employer. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to ensure not only that you are adequately protected, but also that you are receiving a fair bargain. The importance of counsel is even more heightened by the fact that employment agreements are long, convoluted documents containing a great deal of sophisticated legal terms and phrases. This fact alone begs the question: how can healthcare professionals be expected to sign a contract that they can’t even fully understand?

Seeking the legal guidance of an attorney experienced in physician and advanced practice employment issues can have lasting and significant effects for both your career and your personal life. As attorney-agents working exclusively for healthcare professionals, we have the experience and knowledge necessary to not only shape your agreement into its most favorable form, but also to advise you in terms of all the aspects that will most certainly affect your personal life and that of your family.                                                                                                     

To sum it up, in a series of blog posts, we will highlight our Top 10 Reasons Why Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Should Seek Legal Review of Their Employment Agreements. Get started with Part I…


Married to a physician, Leigh Ann O’Neill founded Lauth O’Neill Physician Agency when she recognized the importance of healthcare providers having someone in their corner who will guard their legal and financial interests. Leigh Ann is an expert at helping NPs and PAs negotiate employment contracts. If you are looking for help negotiating your employment agreement, reach out to her at or 317-989-4833. 



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