Within corporate optometry, there are many opportunities to become a sublease owner; however, not all of these opportunities are created equally. Some agreements are not as beneficial to the OD as they should be, and it is important for you as an optometrist to be able to distinguish a good agreement from a bad one for your own career. When determining whether to accept a sublease agreement, it is crucial to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Can I choose my own hours?
When considering a sublease agreement, it is important to note that the hours you are required to work vary from state to state as well as amongst different companies. Be sure to find out how much control you have over your own hours; i.e., whether you can choose which days you work, how much flexibility you have, etc. It may be possible that rather than choosing your own hours, the corporation or regional manager has control. In this case, you must ask yourself whether you agree with these hours and can make them work in your own personal life, and whether you believe the amount of hours required correspond with what is necessary for a successful practice.
2. Can I practice how I want?
Another aspect to consider is your scope of practice. Does this position allow you to practice full scope? Can you prescribe nutraceuticals do your patients if you so desire? Are you discouraged from using scleral lenses? These are just a few examples of the types of questions you should be asking about the range of what you can do within your position and what options are available to you. Each corporate optical has different opportunities, so it is important to decide whether these opportunities align with your vision.
3. Am I able to pick my own equipment?
It is also important to consider what equipment will be available to you and whether you will have the ability to obtain new equipment of your choosing. Some inquiries to make include whether you will be able to pick your retinal camera, fit the contacts you want, choose an EMR system, and choose a credit card machine. Another point to discuss before accepting an agreement is whether or not you will have a say in staffing. Being able to choose who you work with on your team could be very advantageous in allowing you to influence team dynamics and roles within the office.
4. What are the termination clauses of my agreement?
Between leases, termination clauses can vary greatly. It is important to look very closely at and to negotiate properly your restrictive covenant, which limits your ability to practice within a certain geographical range after leaving a company. A fair restrictive covenant would be a location within approximately 1-3 miles for 1 year after leaving your position; however, some clauses have restricted employees even up to 10 miles for 3 years (if this is a position you are currently in, contact an attorney). Do not settle for an unfair termination clause: remember that you have control over such clauses in your contract and that everything is negotiable.
5. Can I work in more than 1 practice?
If your agreement does not allow you to work 40+ hours at this practice, you should be permitted to “float” or have additional practices if you so desire, whether with another brand or a private practice. Lots of companies have different rules about their policies on working in more than one practice, depending on the state and the number of doctors available, so take the initiative to find out this information to ensure you are able to work in additional practices if you would like to work more hours than provided by this agreement.