pros and cons of moonlighting during residency

Entering the Residency phase of your medical training can be both an exciting and challenging time, as it can bring to light some hard truths about your financial situation. Mounting student loans, a meager Resident’s income, and increasing bills might have you thinking about taking up a side job, aka “Moonlighting”, to help earn some extra money. While some programs allow their Residents in good standing to pursue such work, some do not. That is why it is important to evaluate the pros and cons associated with these jobs before deciding if it is the right choice for you.


  • Earn Extra Income- The potential to earn extra income from a side job makes moonlighting an attractive option for many early-career Physicians. While the pay can vary considerably based on the specialty involved, it often runs above the hourly rates offered for similar full-time positions.   
  • Have an Advantage When Negotiating with Future Employers- When the time comes for negotiating a compensation package at your next job, having a side hustle can be most beneficial. An in-demand Resident Physician that possesses additional skillsets and job experience has an advantage when negotiating more favorable terms with prospective employers. These Residents will also have experience with organizational hiring processes when they finish training, giving them an advantage over their less-experienced colleagues when job hunting.   
  • Employer Test Drive- Moonlighting allows you to try out a new clinical setting, practice partners, or a prospective organization without the long-term commitment. That way you can be sure that it’s a good fit if you decide to take a position with them after you finish Residency training.
  • Increase Skillsets and Experience-Side jobs can provide early-career Physicians with much needed additional experience and expanded skillsets. Increased exposure to a variety of clinical settings and procedures can also fortify a Resident’s CV making them a top-notch candidate when starting the job hunt. 


  • Increased Liability Risks- Working in Medicine comes with inherent risks. So, it’s not surprising that taking on a second clinical job can put you at an increased risk for liability issues. These positions require additional medical liability insurance that is not always covered by your current policy. This added expense can eat into your bottom line and if you are not properly covered can also be legally costly. It is also important to get your Residency programs’ consent to Moonlight before embarking on any new ventures. This step can help you avoid punitive or scheduling issues that may arise from conflicts with your program.
  • Added Stress- You think you are stressed out now, try adding on a second job. New jobs can pile on added stress by increasing workloads and demands that require you learn a new organization’s personnel, EMR, workflows, and policies while also training.
  • Less Free Time- You will be working a second job so there will be less free time at your disposal. This means that you will have less time to relax and decompress with family and friends. Will you be missing your son’s little league games, church functions or the ability to keep yourself healthy by exercising? Weighing these factors before making any decisions can help you make the right choice for your situation.