Want to take a month off and go traveling? Become a moonlighting physician

Can moonlighting lead to career freedom?

There are all sorts of reasons why moving away from full-time employment as a physician is a great idea. A practicing doctor can avoid so many of the headaches and job dissatisfaction issues that have gone with the sweeping changes to medical practice over the last 20 years; loss of autonomy, overwhelming bureaucracy, medical facility politics…the list goes on.

But one of the biggest reasons why physicians absolutely love working in a part-time, per-diem, or moonlighting way—is the LIFESTYLE! No longer having to be under the thumb of only one employer, the opportunities for being your own boss are endless. And nowhere does this feel better than being able to take extended time off whenever you need to.

Want to take a month off to go on that tour of Asia you’ve always wanted to go on? Want to take your family cross country to live in a seaside rental? Feel like taking a few weeks away simply to refresh and recharge? These are all options that are available to you, and all it takes from any physician is some planning ahead. It’s a far cry probably from those days when even taking a week off sometimes felt like it was planning ahead for a complicated military operation.

Having to ask permission from the “supervisor”, calling around asking (sometimes pleading) with colleagues to help you out, and at worst being told last minute you can’t go away because of an acute staffing issue! Those are all things you never have to worry about as a doctor who is your own boss when it comes to the amount you work, the way you work, and how much you work.

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.