By C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY
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Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head and Neck Imaging, at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.

Do you read contracts? No. Seriously. Do you? The iTunes agreement to decide if you want to download a new Katy Perry song is 36 pages long. Anybody ever read all that? Probably in there somewhere is a disclaimer that if she is ever at the wheel of a bus that crushes me crossing 75th St., she gets to take the song back and also keep my Macbook. And get a hefty settlement.

So, if you don’t read that, how about the contract for a job that you may have for the rest of your natural life? I speak to residents and fellows about jobs from time to time, and I get the impression that we have been trained to ignore little things like, oh...contracts. So, when your new group capo says, oh, by the way, it’s about time for you to pack for that extended stay in Kuala Lumpur where you’ll be reading the overnight chest films, don’t seem surprised. You should have read the fine print. So, color me reactionary, but I’m going to do a courageous thing. Recommend professional help.

I think that certainly, a work agreement is like a marriage, of sorts, and you need to be equally careful. Pre-nups, anyone? For these nit-picking details, you need a king-hell nit-picker. Get a lawyer. One you trust who is cognizant of what you want and what you don’t want. I know, I know. I said a lawyer “you can trust.” Look harder. What’s that you say? Verbal agreements are a cornerstone of the U.S. of A., right? Come on... Even the founding fathers wrote it down. They asked a few of the more eloquent folks to put it to paper. And took pictures of the final document with their iPhone 1. Ha! Save the e-mails of those “too good to be true” offers, and make sure it appears in the final print. That, or Katy Perry will be throwing you under that bus.

I don’t think for a minute people are out to screw you. Didn’t say that. But, they are. No! But, they may. It’s just reality. This thing might not work out optimally. And we have to plan for unforeseen contingencies. We Americans are all about contingencies. So, let’s rehash—read, get a professional (I recommend anyone nicknamed “the wolf”), and stop on the corner if you see your favorite songstress at the wheel of the crosstown bus.

Keep doing good. Mahalo.

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Contracts.  Appl Radiol. 

March 05, 2012

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