Busy, mid-career physicians moonlight most

Roughly one-third of physicians moonlight outside of their practices, according to Medical Economics' 2013 annual survey. Their motivations aren't necessarily just extra cash, noted an article in the magazine, but also to add variety into their work life, diversify their skills or contribute a public service.

Overall, the results of the survey defy "the notion that it is mostly young, debt-ridden residents who moonlight for extra income." Consider the following trends:

  • More cardiologists (38 percent) earn income outside their practices than general practitioners (35 percent) or pediatricians (25 percent). Hospitalists are the most likely to moonlight, at 40 percent.

  • The physician age group most likely to have a secondary income are 50 to 54, followed closely by 45 to 49, 55 to 59 and 60 to 64.

  • Physicians who moonlight are most likely to have high patient volumes as well, and frequently see 150 to more than 200 patients per week.

  • Roughly half the physicians surveyed said the extra income they earned was less than $30,000, while 25 percent put it in a range of $30,000 to $70,000, and 5 percent reported earning more than $150,000 on the side.

These findings aren't surprising, according to Judy Bee, a management consultant with Practice Performance Group in La Jolla, California and Medical Economics editorial consultant, who added that many physicians moonlight to get part-time work in place for retirement.

"There used to be a fair amount of money available from drug companies for speaking or conducting clinical trials," she said, "but there is not as much anymore."

To learn more:
- read the article