4 Key Steps to Start Moonlighting as a Resident

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Last week, Dr. Goodhook covered the basics of setting priorities and maintaining work-life balance while moonlighting as a parent.

No matter your family situation, you might be considering moonlighting as a possibility. In some situations, you can make more money than you do from your monthly resident income, which doubles your dough.

Whether you want to start chipping away at medical school debt or you’d simply like some extra cash to handle monthly expenses, moonlighting is a good option. Plus, you get valuable extra experience.

Of course there are complications. How about your already-demanding schedule? Or your program’s strict moonlighting policy? Where do you even begin to look for moonlighting positions?

Getting started can be an overwhelming task. The following 4 key steps to moonlighting as a resident will help you plan and organize your search for the right position.

Step 1: Consider the Pros and Cons

As appealing as substantial extra income may be, it’s not always worth it.

How much relaxing free time do you have, and how do you typically spend it? Moonlighting will take away from that free time, and it requires a considerable amount of energy.

In addition to missing out on quality time with your partner, children and friends, you might also miss after-hours educational events at your program. There’s also your long-term job search to consider, which you should be devoting a good amount of time to in your final years of residency.

Many residents manage to find some balance while moonlighting, though, and it is possible. One of the best things about moonlighting is that you only need to do it sporadically — usually once or twice a month.

The fact that these shifts bring in a sizable chunk of change in a short amount of time makes it worth it for many residents.

However, you’re your own person, so decide what’s best for you. Instead of taking the plunge and regretting it later, give it some good thought now so you can make the best decision.

Step 2: Know Your Program’s Policy

Many residency programs have strict policies in place for moonlighting. For instance, many will only allow top performing third-year residents to moonlight. In almost every case, moonlighting needs to be approved by a supervisor.

In addition to any in-house policies, the Accreditation Committee for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) puts a cap on the number of combined educational and work hours for residents, which should not exceed 80 per week. To read more about the ACGME policy, click here.

Ask your supervisor when (and whether) moonlighting is allowed. You might also want to have a conversation about what programs or procedures are in place to monitor residents’ hours.

Step 3: Cover Your Bases and Start Searching

Once you’re approved for moonlighting, you’ll probably want to start the search process right away.

Hold your horses, though — first you’ll want to review your contract and your malpractice coverage.

Reviewing your existing contract can alert you to any roadblocks that could keep you from landing a good gig. You’ll also want to be sure you have the right kind of malpractice coverage. These are both things to speak about with a qualified legal adviser.

Next, it’s time to start looking for the right position. Most residents start their search in-house, but depending on your situation, you might want to seek employment elsewhere.

Local hospitals are another great place to look, and you’ll likely find more opportunities if they don’t have any training programs in place. You can also consider telecommuting and contributing to paid, medical-related web publications.

Step 4: Try Working in Blocks

When you’re searching for a position, it may be beneficial to look for one that allows you to work a big block of time once or twice a month. Instead of spreading your hours out over several days, concentrating them all into a large weekend shift can work in your favor.

For instance, working one entire weekend out of every month allows for a little more flexibility than working six hours every weekend. When you know your remaining three weekends are work-free, it’s easier to schedule other activities.

Are you currently moonlighting as a resident? If so, what are your biggest challenges (and rewards)?

If you’re not moonlighting, have you thought about it? What types of things would influence your decision?

Doctor Career: Sponsors

Though the views expressed above are solely the writer’s, Beloit Health supports “The Dose with Dr. Goodhook” and is partnering with Adventures in Medicine to create an open, inspiring and insightful community for residents and physicians. Click here to learn more about ways that Beloit Health is making practice purposeful.

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About

Holly Higgins is a freelance writer. She enjoys working with the Adventures in Medicine team and industry experts to create educational materials for residents, fellows and practicing physicians.

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One Response to 4 Key Steps to Start Moonlighting as a Resident

  1. Ben Amirault says:

    Great post. It makes sense that residents would want to pick up shifts to earn extra income. We place a lot of new doctors in moonlighting/locum tenens positions all over the country. They have to pay down that school debt somehow!
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