To moonlight or not to moonlight, that used to be the question. A number of physicians these days find themselves saying yes to moonlighting, specially that it goes with the promise of a hefty pay.
|Photo by Shing Camps|
Medical moonlighting in the Philippine setting basically means working as a doctor for pay, outside the requirements of a training program. Here in the Philippines, moonlighting is usually done by registered physicians, most of whom did not go through residency training yet, although there are also a handful who had a few years of residency under their belt but stopped training for a number of reasons. I personally have nothing against moonlighting. In fact, I am all for it.
I have been through that path myself. I spent four years doing moonlight job in the beautiful island of Bohol, after doing one year of residency training in Internal Medicine in Cebu City.
Physicians who choose the moonlighting pathway may actually have varied reasons for doing so. On top of these reasons is that they may still be undecided on which specialty to train for. Others may want to redeem themselves or their families from the financial pangs brought about by the high cost of medical education. It could also be that they want to build up a comfortable financial cushion before going into residency training. There are some who probably want a more or less relaxed and less stressful lifestyle as a doctor, with "relatively" easy money flowing in, money that is not in anyway associated with the horrors of residency training. The last reason is actually valid because saying that residency has its horrors is actually putting it mildly.
If ever you decide to go moonlighting, I believe there are two things that you should remember.
First and foremost, bear in mind that moonlighting is just a stopover.
It is not the be-all of your medical career no matter how big the bucks you are raking in from going on 24H-duties everywhere. Set a limit for yourself, a duration of time time you would allow yourself to go moonlighting before finally submitting yourself to training. One year is enough, with two years being the longest. Do not be blinded by the money. Residency might force you to tighten your belt a little, but as I have mentioned in my previous entry, just bear in mind that after proper medical training, the money will follow. That was exactly what my boss in Bohol told me when I told him about my plans of re-entering residency - "Money will follow, Inday." By then you are already a consultant, a recognized expert in the field you have chosen. You would become the master of your own time and you will not anymore be an employee of the medical institution, unlike when you are moonlighting. The owner of the hospital is not even your boss, but your business partner, because you bring in patients to their hospital thus making their venture prosper.