Questions to Ask Before You Start Moonlighting

By Suneel Dhand, MD
November 13, 2019

Okay so you’re a physician who is a full-time employee with an organization. Thinking of taking your first steps into the world of moonlighting and being able to set your own schedule? The inevitable question then arises: Where can you find a good moonlighting gig? The answer in this time of high demand is probably: all around you!

The first thing is to be clear about is exactly what you are looking for:

  • Do you want to work days, evenings, weekends or nights?
  • Do you want to work in an outpatient or inpatient setting?
  • Would you consider unique new areas of growth like wellness clinics and telemedicine?
  • How about the location of the facility? Rural small community hospitals will of course be completely different from large academic tertiary care centers.

The next thing to be clear about is what level of reimbursement you desire. It’s safe to say that you, just like anybody, want to earn the highest possible premium for your hard work. Do your own research, network, and ask colleagues to get an idea of a realistic goal (which may well be higher than you imagine). There’s then likely going to be a trade-off involved, as with anything in life. For instance, if you want to earn the highest hourly rate, you’ll need to go more rural and consider working unsocial hours like nights and weekends. Hospital work is typically more highly reimbursed than outpatient work, and the more the facility struggles to attract and retain physicians, the higher the pay too. Of course, this is all balanced against the work environment. If you want a more relaxed setting to deliver patient care, and are less interested in commanding the highest pay rates, then your priorities will be different.

The bottom line is this: There are enormous differences between facilities, sometimes geographically right next to each other. Being clear on exactly what you are looking for is paramount. The ultimate deal you get will also depend on your level flexibility, which is why it's always a good idea not be too rigid in your requirements.

Suneel Dhand MD is an internal medicine physician, author and speaker. He is the cofounder of DocsDox (

Topics: Career Planning

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