Dr. Jacqui O’Kane took a job with a hospital in southern Georgia in 2020, as the lone doctor in a primary care clinic in a small town that’s a medically underserved area. She soon attracted nearly 3,000 patients.
But she said the hospital pressed her to take more new patients, so she had to work nights and weekends — not ideal for the mother of two young daughters. She thought about opening her own practice in town, which would give her more control over her schedule.
The problem was that her three-year contract included a noncompete clause barring her from practicing within 50 miles of the hospital for two years after it ended.
So, she has decided to join a practice in South Carolina. That means she and her husband will sell their house, move hundreds of miles, and enroll their children in a new school.
“It sucks,” she said. “I know my patients very well, and I feel like I’m being forced to abandon them. But I can’t stay in this job because it’s unhealthy for me to work this much.”
In January, the Federal Trade Commission proposed to end predicaments like O’Kane’s by prohibiting noncompete clauses in employment contracts. “The freedom to change jobs is core to economic liberty and to a competitive, thriving economy,” said Lina Khan, t …