Physicians in Demand

SEPTEMBER 25, 2018
Heidi Moawad, MD
Physicians are frequently presented with professional opportunities outside of clinical work. As the demand for doctors to consult outside of patient care increases, andphysician consulting jobs the availability of these projects becomes more accessible through online websites and physician groups, an important question arises- what factors should a physician consider when deciding whether or not to take on outside work? 
 

Extra Finances: Full Time vs. Part Time Consulting 

Taking on additional work projects can reap generous financial compensation for physicians. When a physician provides work as an advisor, he or she can often command a much higher hourly rate than in a full-time clinical or non-clinical job.

Some practical reasons for the higher reimbursement for working as an independent contractor are that the work is often sporadic, and the compensation does not include perks like benefits and sick leave. 

This often makes part-time consulting projects a good short-term investment of time. But a physician can end up exhausted as a result of taking on too many opportunities in addition to a full-time job. It is important to determine boundaries and personal limitation before accepting all incoming offers.

Setting priorities is at the core of the decision- making when it comes to outside work.

Physicians, like individuals in any other profession, have a variety of different priorities. Every physician has to consider their personal and professional goals and boundaries when deciding whether to accept advisory roles or not.

Hitting Financial Targets

Often, physicians want to pay educational loans with a target deadline in mind. Some doctors want to pay off loans before buying a house, having kids, or another milestone.

This can be achieved with projects outside of regular work- such as moonlighting, expert witness work, or advisory board projects. Many doctors decide to step away or reduce this type of work once their financial situation stabilizes. 

Increasing total earnings is one of the incentives for taking on additional work outside of clinical practice. There may be limits to how much a physician can work in clinical practice, both from a logistical and emotional standpoint. Giving sponsored talks, promoting products, or taking on chart review can all increase a physician’s total income if patient care volume and income has been maximized.

Early Retirement

Some specialties that require long hours, resulting in physical exhaustion, are difficult to keep up with for years on end. Often, doctors who anticipate the need to eventually slow down want to earn as much as possible to make early retirement a possibility. And many consider building a foundation for part-time projects that can provide some income after retirement from clinical practice. 
 

Professional Development

Doctors who want to learn whether a non-clinical job would be a good fit may take on additional work projects as a way to gain experience in a medical field outside of clinical practice.

Doing insurance reviews, sitting on advisory boards, and editing medical books are all examples of ways that doctors can learn about an industry while taking the time to consider whether it is appealing for the long term.

Some doctors may decide that the industry is not a good fit without having made a commitment to join a company, while others may decide to pursue non-clinical work full-time.

Taking on projects instead of a full-time job can give a physician time to be selective while waiting for an opportunity in a company that has a strong reputation, long term growth opportunities, competent mentors, and a path towards leadership in the industry.

Often, if a prospective job aligns with long-term goals and standards, a physician may then accept the job even if the full-time work pays less on an hourly basis than sporadic consulting.

Time

Doctors value their time. A full-time physician in clinical practice can certainly work long hours and also accumulate extra income by taking on side projects that consume several additional hours each day. Yet, many doctors turn down these opportunities in order to protect their free time and maintain work life balance, preferring to enjoy time with friends, family, hobbies, or fitness.

Quality in healthcare

Doctors do not have enough say in how medical practice is controlled. Doctors who choose to take on extra work in quality review, litigation work, and overseeing hospital wide benchmarks often do so as a way to ensure that patient care stays up to par.

Not every doctor has the same goals. Some view professional growth as the priority, while others care about protecting their time, and others are driven primarily by income, either for a short-term goal or as the primary objective of work itself. As the demand for physician expertise grows, the added challenge of deciding whether to accept supplementary work opportunities is another decision that each physician must face.

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