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Doctors Moonlighting

Updated on May 1, 2012

With doctors working such long hours as it is (80 to 100 hour a week is common), you would think that this profession would be the last one to moonlight (ie doing extra optional work beyond your regular job)

But they do.

Larry Stevens wrote article in 2007 on interviewing some moonlighting doctors. He writes that ...

"More doctors are taking clinical side jobs to make ends meet or determine the next career move."[3]

Marcia Turner writes in 2010 about moonlighting for doctors where she says ...

"Though opportunities to moonlight are on the upswing, fewer residents and young doctors are taking advantage of them, creating a messy void. Residents who do moonlight, however, can significantly boost their income and lessen the financial strains nearly all face."[1]

Paper by Jha, Duncan, and Bates (all M.D.'s) found archived at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says ...

"Healthcare providers, particularly those still in training or who have recently completed training, occasionally work extra shifts to increase their income ("moonlighting"). One recent survey found that nearly half of all emergency medicine residents moonlight. As many as 65% of internal medicine residents and fellows moonlight and moonlighting is common among other residencies and fellowships."[2]

Why Do Doctors Moonlight?

Doctors moonlight for various reasons.

Some do it to make extra money to pay off their large student debts and pay for malpractice insurance.

Turner writes ...

"Few residents would disagree that money is a major motivator when it comes to moonlighting. Earning the equivalent of 50 percent or more of their monthly salary by putting in a few extra hours is quite enticing to residents and to new attending physicians with sizeable student loans or family expenses to cover."[1]

Others do it for to gain and broaden their experience and education. Others do it because it is gratifying to them helping patients. Others do it because hospitals are short on doctors and patients need them. And others reasons.

Keep In Mind

However, burnout and sleep deprivation needs to be kept in mind in order to make sure that doctors are in the best condition to help patients. Also there can be legal ramifications such as "non-moonlighting clauses" in work contracts and the issue of medical liability.


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