By Editor, updated Jul 06, 2020
Medical moonlighting opportunities, including locum tenens
work, can help new physicians pay off debt, provide mid- and late-career
physicians secondary sources of income, or enable doctors a chance check out a
potential employment location.
Medical moonlighting also extends to residents, although
with a few caveats and qualifications. Staff Care employs medical residents for
locums work on a limited basis, but we know that many residents and fellows
look to our experts on career guidance — here at the Locums Link Blog, as well as
our New Physicians Program,
which offers a wealth of resources.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the pros, the cons
and the “how tos” of medical moonlighting jobs for residents.
Advance your career with locum tenens jobs across the U.S.
Medical Moonlighting: What Residents Should Know
In its most basic terms, moonlighting is a secondary job
worked in addition to one’s main, primary job. The term relates to any kind of
employment, not just medical employment. For residents, moonlighting may mean
working as an independent physician, outside of the scope of your residency
training program. There's also a difference between internal moonlighting
(working in the same facility as your primary position) and external
moonlighting (working outside of it).
Some resident programs, such as HCA
Healthcare, do not allow internal moonlighting. Yet others, such as
The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston McGovern Medical
and interventional imaging residency program, offer multiple
internal moonlighting positions for residents in “good academic standing.”
The American Medical Association (AMA) suggests additional
financial assistance for residents could decrease the need for moonlighting,
but that residents in good standing should still have the opportunity to
Individual residency programs may have policies about their residents’
moonlighting. For instance, The
George Washington University in Washington, DC, indicates residents’
moonlighting must not interfere with their ability to achieve the educational
program’s goals. It also limits moonlighting to residents who have met certain
In addition to program-specific rules, the Accreditation
Committee for Graduate Medical Education itself has capped the number of
"combined educational and work hours for residents" at 80
hours per week. Any moonlighting must not interfere with the
resident’s fitness or “compromise patient safety.”
The process of finding medical moonlighting jobs can be
somewhat difficult for residents to do on their own. Some hospitals require a
board-certified physician. Some
places also require residents to have a permanent license, such as the Iowa
Board of Medicine.
The most consistent warning you’ll hear about medical
moonlighting for residents is on the topic of malpractice insurance. A new physician
will want to make sure that any moonlighting jobs offer quality malpractice
coverage. The resident should either learn what a good malpractice coverage
consists of, or work with an agency that provides coverage to its workers, as
Staff Care does for its locum tenens providers.
Jennifer F. Tseng, MD, MPH, surgeon-in-chief at Boston
Medical Center and James Utley Professor and Chair of Surgery at Boston University
School of Medicine, offered tips for residents in a May
2020 article in General Surgery News. She acknowledged that moonlighting
can be tempting, but it can also interfere with your personal life or research.
She recommends doing no more than two moonlighting shifts per month.
The sacrifice of free time has to be considered. "Are you willing
to trade time with family and friends – or pillow and blanket – for
moonlighting shifts?" asked Joshua S. Coren, DO, MBA, chair and professor
of the department of family medicine and director of continuing medical education
at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, New
"Residents [who moonlight] could also miss educational
programs or events at their primary hospital,” Coren said.
medical residents need to devote time to finding an ideal match after they
finish their residency.
The Benefits of Medical Moonlighting for Residents
Even considering the caveats listed above, there's no
denying the benefits of medical moonlighting for residents. For starters, the
extra income can help the new physician reduce debt. Although one must remember
that as income increases, the amount of the loan repayment can also increase.
Tseng recommends using any money earned by moonlighting to
pay down debt or to support a family, not to splurge.
Medical moonlighting also can expand the resident’s
experience, help build confidence and introduce him or her to different
Shelby Haque, MD, a faculty member in the department of
emergency medicine at the University of Alberta, Canada, supports resident
moonlighting and has written about the benefits.
“From an educational standpoint, I had a clear advantage in
terms of comfort with critical care procedures and management of critically ill
patients,” Haque recalled. “To put it into context, more than 60 percent of the
critical care procedures I performed during my year of emergency medicine
training -- central lines, chest tubes, intubations, and so on -- were done
while moonlighting. When I was eventually hired, my work as a physician
extender was a big selling feature on my resume.”
Clinical and Educational Work Hours – AMA
You Moonlight When You’re a Medical Resident? – AMA
Doctors Are Paying Off Medical School Debt
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practitioners that are appropriate for every career stage.
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