Can residents moonlight during residency? The short answer is it depends upon the program and the residency contract that you signed. The contract that most residents sign prior to starting into the residency program is not like an employment agreement that you’re going to sign once you’re finished training and then get your first job offer. It’s usually much shorter and it doesn’t cover the normal terms that an employment agreement will cover. However, there might be some language in that residency contract that states you cannot do any outside activities without employer approval or program approval. If you do have language in your contract that states you have to get approval to do any kind of outside employment, then that’s what you need to do.
You need to get written approval that states, yes, the program is okay with you doing this. And then you also consider several different things. One, your professional liability insurance is not specific to you, it’s specific to the employer. So, if you’re working in a residency program, any of the activities you do in that program is covered by that insurance policy. However, if you were to moonlight or work anywhere else, you would need a separate professional liability insurance policy that covers your activities for that new employer. One policy doesn’t cover you in whatever you do. You need a specific policy for each employer. Now, if you are moonlighting, whoever you’re moonlighting for will cover your professional liability insurance. And then you also need to consider whether once you leave the moonlighting position if they’re going to pay for your tail insurance if there’s a claims-made policy. I have several blogs about claims-made coverage and tail insurance.
I’m not going to get into it in this blog, but I would take that into account as well. The specialty is also important. If you’re in shift work type position like ED, hospitalist, or any kind of IM position, usually you’ll have a lot, you could do urgent care. There are a lot of different avenues for you to moonlight. Same with surgeons as well. But most programs are okay if the resident does moonlight, if one, they ask for permission. Two, they make sure that there’s professional liability insurance at that new position, and then three, obviously, they don’t want any of the moonlighting to interfere with the resident’s schedule or duties with the program. Other blogs of interest include:
- What are 4 Reasons for Termination of a Medical Contract?
- What is the Proper Way for a Physician to Terminate a Patient?
No program is going to be okay with the resident switching around the schedule or missing any kind of required activities because of an outside employment opportunity. And, any kind of moonlighting done during residency, it’s not going to be a lot of time. Usually, it’s going to be very infrequent just to pick up some extra cash on the site. I mean, certainly, if you have time to do it, there’s no reason not to, you’re going to make infinitely more taking a moonlighting position than you are as a resident, or you’re probably making somewhere between like $45,000 to $60,000 annually which is tough to live on if you have of a family at that point. So, yes, you can moonlight during residency if the residency program is okay with it. Many of them will also have policies in place that state, these are the scenarios where you can do it, and these are the scenarios where you can’t.
And I would certainly ask that when you’re going through the matching process, and you’re interested in doing moonlighting. Just ask them, what’s the policy on resident moonlighting. And then certainly, how far you are along in the training will dictate whether you even can do some of those opportunities. If you’re a PGY-1, it’s unlikely you’re going to do any moonlighting. Whereas, as you progress from PGY-2 and PGY-3, certainly you’ll have more opportunities. And then once you’re in fellowship, certainly you have many more opportunities to moonlight. If that’s something you’re interested in doing.
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