If you are a regular moonlighting physician, you will be used to creating and organizing your schedule. Most doctors who practice in this desirable way, have worked out a method that fits their unique needs. These are however, unprecedented times in healthcare—and many physicians have found themselves in a new place over the last few weeks.
If you are a regular moonlighting physician, you will be used to creating and organizing your schedule. Most doctors who practice in this desirable way, have worked out a method that fits their unique needs. These are however, unprecedented times in healthcare—and many physicians have found themselves in a new place over the last few weeks. For those in urbanized areas hit by COVID-19, practicing in specialties such as hospital internal or emergency medicine, they have been called to action like never before. If you are on staff at a facility that is struggling with coverage, you have probably been receiving numerous emails and phone calls. The more hospitals you are credentialed in, the more need there is for your skills (in any case, during this emergency situation, most hospitals are able to rapidly credential any doctor they want to hire).
There are stories of moonlighting physicians working between multiple hospitals, weeks in a row, barely taking any days off. Seeing COVID-19 patients requires a lot of additional time and effort, including dealing with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and despite our best efforts—the risk of transmission can’t be completely eliminated. The stress can quickly build up. While every doctor is qualified enough to make their own decisions regarding their schedule, it’s advisable to ensure you get at least a day or two off every week. Complete time away is always necessary to rest, recharge and refresh. You are not a machine! It's also advisable to not alternate excessively between days and nights—something that will wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm.
Work-life balance is crucial. Equally so, is staying healthy yourself. Consume a nutritious well-balanced diet—rich in vegetables and fruits, and low in saturated fat, red meat, processed foods, and sugars. Exercise, preferably outdoors, at every opportunity. Get plenty of fresh air and hopefully (soon) vitamin D. You may be working extra hard right now between a number of facilities, but you have to keep your body and mind strong: to continue being the best for your patients. The mantra should be: enough days off, eat healthy, exercise, and find ways to completely “switch off” when you leave the hospital. Outdoor walking? A new Netflix show? A captivating book? Take your mind away from the pandemic, Doctor.
About the Author: Suneel Dhand MD is an internal medicine physician, author and speaker. He is the cofounder of DocsDox (www.DocsDox.com), a service that helps physicians find local moonlighting and per diem opportunities, bypassing the expensive middleman.