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Keywords:

  • moonlighting;
  • emergency medicine;
  • resident: education;
  • graduate medical education

ABSTRACT

Objectives: 1) To systematically describe emergency medicine (EM) program directors' perceptions of the benefits and risks of resident moonlighting. 2) To assess moonlighting policies of EM residencies, the degree of compliance with these policies, and the methods of dealing with residents who are out of compliance.

Methods: A written survey was mailed or hand-delivered to all allopathic and osteopathic EM residency directors in the United States in 1992–93. Incomplete and ambiguous surveys were completed by phone.

Results: There was a 96% response rate (113/118). The average EM resident clinical workweek ranged from 38 to 50 hours while the resident was assigned to ED rotations. Most (90%) of the program directors believe moonlighting interferes with residency duties to some degree. Few (10%) programs prohibit moonlighting altogether, although 44% limit moonlighting to an average of 41.5 hours per month. Program directors believe residents moonlight primarily for financial reasons. Most (60%) of the program directors believe moonlighting offers experience not available in the residency, primarily related to autonomous practice. Fifteen programs reported residents who had been sued for malpractice while moonlighting, with one program director named along with the resident. One third of program directors have penalized residents for abuse of moonlighting privileges.

Conclusions: EM residency directors are concerned about the effect of moonlighting on resident education. The directors' concerns regarding litigation, excessive work hours, and interference with residency duties are balanced by a general acceptance of the financial need to supplement residency income.