Physicians with more than one job are much happier

December 16, 2019

What does it mean for the future of medical work and burnout?

Opportunities abound for doctors of all specialties. Clinical inpatient and outpatient work, telemedicine, insurance, administrative, pharmaceutical, or completely different ventures- so many choices out there.                      

Physicians are behind most other industries though, when it comes to “thinking outside the box” and taking advantage of the supply-demand mismatch that exists in healthcare. Slowly, they are entering the 21st century! There’s a common misconception out there that doctors need to be in one place to be providing great patient care.

Sure, that’s true for each individual working day, but doctors can easily have multiple different types of work during any given week, or even “side gigs”, and constantly be expanding their medical knowledge and clinical skills at the same time. In fact, it is more likely to make them better doctors if they are utilizing their skills in a variety of diverse ways.

The way that any physician organizes this way of working will of course be tailored to the individual. A full-time medical doctor could do some lucrative administrative work in the early evenings or weekends. A part-time internist could do some urgent care shifts when they aren’t in their regular practice. An orthopedic surgeon can do some consulting for a device company. Or a physician could simply full-time independently contract doing different types of work on different days.

However, one pattern that you will start to notice very quickly: those doctors who have more than one job, are consistently happier than those who are tied to only one organization- especially as a full-time employee (make no mistake, there’s no long-term career satisfaction like that). They are taking the first steps to regaining their autonomy, being in control of their schedule, and practicing on their own terms. At a time when burnout and job dissatisfaction rates are escalating wildly, it’s a step worth taking, that no doctor ever looks back from.

Suneel Dhand MD is an internal medicine physician, author and speaker. He is the cofounder of DocsDox, a service that helps physicians find local moonlighting and per diem opportunities, bypassing the expensive middleman.