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Moonlighting For Residents

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Moonlighting can be beneficial for residents to supplement their income. A significant number of physicians throughout the United States moonlight for various reasons, including gain experience in new scenarios, teach, volunteer, and broaden career horizons.

Moonlighting has been on the rise due to physician shortage. Physicians may be able to pick up shifts in their current hospital or with an outside health care facility.

Table of Contents:

What Type Of Moonlighting Are Residents Permitted To Do?

Residents must consider a few things before looking into moonlighting opportunities. The most important element is your contract within the primary position you hold at a hospital or private practice.

For instance, some contracts forbid employees from practicing within the same geographic location, specialization, or through locum tenens and telemedicine. The feasibility depends on the parameters of the training program.

A resident must understand their residency program’s policy if moonlighting is permitted. Some non-surgical residency programs require approval from a supervisor, and many will only allow high-performing third-year residents to work as locum tenens. ACGME has limited the competency standards to a minimum of 80 hours per week for medical residents.

There are two types of moonlighting that the residents are permitted to do.

  • Internal Moonlighting:  The resident can pick up extra shifts within the primarily employed facility. The resident will be provided with a training license, malpractice insurance, and privileges.
  • External Moonlighting:  The resident works in an outside facility or an organization. Residents may get a good remuneration, but they have to often have their independent license to practice medicine, malpractice insurance, and hospital privileges.

A resident’s moonlighting privileges can be withdrawn if it interferes with their patient responsibilities and performance.

Facilities That Accept Moonlighting Physicians

In today’s economy, everybody is trying to earn some extra income to help meet their financial needs. Many resident physicians moonlight for a variety of reasons and in various locations. Below are some options where residents can choose to moonlight:

  • Hospital Moonlighting:  Most often, residents pick up extra shifts in the same location they work. It can be easier to pick up extra shifts or extra hours in their department or fill in wherever needed.
  • Urgent Care Moonlighting:  There are plenty of opportunities in urgent care with flexible hours. Urgent care centers allow for a decidedly patient-centered approach, and this allows physicians to work creatively to ease patient’s symptoms. There is a low risk of burnout due to a slower pace and lower incidence of on-call hours.
  • Free Standing ER: One of the popular Moonlighting opportunities for physicians is in a free-standing emergency department. In some cases, it may seem like an unconventional way to work because they are not affiliated with any hospital or medical system, but this can be beneficial because if there is no staff available on-site then these facilities will hire moonlighting physicians that have completed their residency to provide coverage.
  • Other: Doctors have a wealth of medical knowledge. Consulting and teaching are great moonlighting options. 

Why Do Residents Choose Moonlighting?

Moonlighting can help ease financial burdens, keep the skills sharp, and learn new things. The moonlighting opportunities are varied and unique.

  • Financial Benefits:  Residents supplement their income through moonlighting to pay off large student loans, provide for their families, childcare, accelerate their savings, etc. The financial benefits differ from position to position.
  • New Learning Experiences:  A resident physician can gain experience in a variety of settings through moonlighting. They may also get an opportunity to use their knowledge and skills that aren’t applicable in their regular practice.
  • Help Others:  Sharing knowledge and expertise can be beneficial for the next generation of doctors. Consulting, teaching, and volunteer work provide the ability to recognize this goal.

How Much Can You Make?

Moonlighting can be an excellent opportunity to supplement your earnings and gain varied experience. After medical school, physicians must undergo residency training for additional three to seven years. Since the resident physician’s salary is often not much greater than the minimum wage, they often turn to moonlight to provide for their families, pay off debts, childcare, loan repayment, etc.

Residents often moonlight within their specialty or at urgent care. Typically, the pay ranges between $75 and $200 per hour depending on specialty, location, and job duties. However, increased pay is proportionate to increased responsibilities. Residents often work with minimum or no supervision.

How To Balance A Resident’s Work Schedule With Moonlighting

It is often challenging for residents to engage in moonlighting jobs that would push them over the 80-hour work limit. Committing to multiple jobs and extending your workday can impact both your personal and professional lives. It is important to devise strategies to minimize that impact.

Below are a few tips for maintaining a balance when moonlighting:

  • Carefully analyze your current position, schedule, and other important factors when choosing to moonlight. Realistic goals and expectations are more likely to earn a stable moonlighting job.
  • You may look at nonclinical moonlighting jobs that are different from your main position. The variations in work may keep both positions fresh and exciting.
  • Having a flexible schedule and setting earning goals can help you work the hours needed to reach the goal.
  • To successfully balance your work schedule with moonlighting jobs, you must take some time off. You must set apart half-day or one full day to relax.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet, getting good sleep with your new schedule, and exercising can help you remain positive and energized, which will help you handle the pressures and demands of moonlighting jobs.
  • Taking multiple jobs may contribute to commute time. Keeping your jobs close to each other and your home can decrease frustrations and stress levels that can come with a long commute.

Moonlighting with residency programs can be professionally and financially rewarding, but managing your time is the most challenging part of all.


Moonlighting as a resident physician is a great way to supplement your income. Paid physician surveys are rated the best side gig for residents looking to supplement their income.

For residents seeking new challenges and skill development, choosing outside work can reignite their passion for medicine.

It is important to review moonlighting policies with your supervisor to ensure you are not violating your employment contract or jeopardizing your residency.

Moonlighting to your busy schedule may not be easy, but it can help you achieve your career and life goals. Choose the job wisely to balance with your primary position and to reduce burnout.

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