Moonlighting in Healthcare: Maximizing Income, Minimizing Risk

January 28, 2024   |   PA

Considering moonlighting as a clinician? Here’s what you should know

Whether you’re a clinician looking to boost your earnings or are exploring a new side hustle, moonlighting is a great way to earn extra income and gain valuable experience. Before moving forward, though, it’s important to shield yourself from legal complications. In the summer of 2023, two occupational therapists were part of a $1.4 million settlement to resolve claims that they were moonlighting while on the clock at their primary employer.

Moonlighting, or locum tenens jobs, is when medical providers like nurses, nurse practitioners and physician associates hold the place of staff members when healthcare organizations experience gaps. The temporary staff meet an important need amidst the current staffing healthcare shortage. 

For clinicians, it’s a great way to advance your career as a clinician, as long as you know the legal implications, have the additional insurance coverage you need and operate in good faith.

Financial implications of moonlighting

Moonlighting can provide a substantial increase in income for clinicians. This can be especially beneficial if you’re looking to pay off debt, save for a down payment on a house or simply increase your disposable income.

However, it’s important to remember that moonlighting also has additional tax implications. Clinicians who moonlight are typically required to file a 1099-MISC form with the IRS and may also be subject to self-employment taxes. Consult with a tax advisor to ensure you know your tax obligations.

Impact on primary job performance

Adding another position can have a significant impact on your primary job performance if you’re moonlighting in addition to a primary job.

If you’re moonlighting for a competitor of your primary employer or treating patients who are also patients of your primary employer, you may encounter potential conflicts of interest. This could lead to ethical dilemmas and even damage your reputation and career. Check your employee contract and handbook before taking on a moonlighting gig.

Another important consideration is the potential for moonlighting work to interfere with your primary job responsibilities. If you’re working long hours or taking on too much work, you may find it difficult to maintain your focus and productivity at your primary job. This could lead to decreased performance, errors and even disciplinary action.

It’s a good idea to be transparent with your primary employer about your moonlighting activities to avoid misunderstandings, conflicts and even termination. 

Get proper clinical training for any new area of moonlighting

While a weekend clinical course might sound like a great way to start moonlighting, think again. There are weekend certification courses, such as Botox training, that offer some preliminary training without covering the topic thoroughly. If you’ve injected an aesthetic product in anyone’s face, you likely need more training than a short course. And if you’re a nurse who hasn’t inserted an IV since nursing school, a quick IV drip hydration training certification might not be sufficient. It’s important to know your clinical comfort zone and stay within that limit.

Just because you’re certified to pursue a specific position doesn’t mean you should.

Insurance coverage for moonlighting 

Before beginning any moonlighting gig, you’ll want to be sure you have adequate insurance coverage to protect yourself and your patients. The insurance coverage from your primary employer doesn’t extend to work outside of that position. 

Failure to have proper insurance for moonlighting can cause significant financial loss and even loss of your medical license.

By carefully considering the legal and ethical implications of moonlighting and taking steps to mitigate potential risks, you can protect yourself and your patients while enjoying the benefits of this additional income stream.

CM&F’s moonlighting insurance for clinicians is comprehensive, portable, and flexible – offering 24/7 coverage that includes any services outlined within your scope of practice according to relevant state laws, as outlined within your policy agreement. Click here to learn more.

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