Here is an article I published in the April 2008 issue of Advance For Directors in Rehabilitation about the use of non-compete agreements in private practice physical therapy clinics. This was a particularly fun write for me as the interview with Georgia really opened my eyes to the downside of non-compete agreements as pertains to clinician livelihoods as well as general community benefit. Nobody really wins when a good practitioner has to leave a community to protect the business interest of a small practice.
When Georgia Norgren, PT, was asked to sign a non-compete agreement before accepting a job at an outpatient orthopedic center in Oregon, she signed it without much thought. Not understanding the potential ramifications of the contract, Norgren didn’t realize that she’d be prevented from practicing physical therapy anywhere within a 60-mile radius of her employer for 2 years after termination-terms that would prevent her from living in her community.
That was February 2004, and when Norgren decided to leave the company in September of the same year for personal reasons, her employer reminded her of the agreement-and informed her that it would be enforced. After obtaining legal counsel and spending countless hours researching her options, Norgren finally decided not to fight the agreement. She relocated to Colorado, where she still lives.