What is the Difference Between Moonlighting and Locums Coverage? | Moonlighting Solutions

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Moonlighting vs. Traditional Locums

Different Staffing Approaches Address Separate Challenges

It’s a common misconception to confuse moonlighting coverage with locum tenens, but they are not one in the same. Moonlighting fills a different type of staffing need than locums can.

Most healthcare leaders are familiar with traditional “locums” coverage. Traditional locum tenens agencies utilize a rotating bench of traveling doctors to fill short-term assignments (with a definitive end-date) that are either full-time or part-time hours. Locums is great for providing coverage during a physician vacation, maternity leave, etc.

While locums (or travel doctors) do meet some important staffing needs, incorporating moonlighters into your physician team provides additional benefits to your full-time physician staff that locums cannot.

Moonlighting provides a more long-term approach than locum tenens. Moonlighting assignments often do not have a defined end-date because moonlighting physicians integrate with the full-time physician staff indefinitely, on a part-time schedule, such as night and weekend coverage, for example.

Implementing a moonlighting program provides many benefits for hospitals and health systems. A team of physician moonlighters can solve a number of staffing challenges that are not solved by permanent search firms or locum tenens.

A well-implemented moonlighting team enables a health system to incorporate part-time physicians on an ongoing basis rather than filling gaps with travel docs who are not familiar with the system, staff, EMR, protocols, etc. Moonlighters are able to more fully integrate with staff physicians and become part of the physician team, which benefits the health system, physicians, and their patients.

Ongoing, Long-term Benefits of Implementing a Moonlighting Program in Your Hospital or Health System

Studies show that, today more than ever, physician burn-out is a growing concern for many health systems and hospitals. Additionally, physician call schedules are a major factor impacting recruiting and retention. A moonlighting program makes life better for your physician staff, and for your patients.

  • Improve physician retention. Many reports including this one by Doximity show that being "exhausted, overwhelmed" and over-worked are one of the top 4 reasons why physicians change jobs.
  • Facilitate physician recruiting. Physicians value quality of life, and work/life balance. Therefore, most doctors are more likely to choose to work where they won't be on call every weekend or every other weekend.
  • Ramp up physician coverage during busy seasons such as flu season, winter holidays, etc.
  • Extend careers & productivity of staff physicians by giving them more time off on weekends and evening hours. Providing even one additional weekend off per month can help staff physicians feel more satisfied with their career and schedule.
  • Improve quality of patient care. Physicians who are not being over-worked with intense, frequent call schedules are more rested, happier, and will therefore be able to provide the best care to your patients.

Integrating part-time physicians with your full-time physician staff for the long-term creates a synergy that is not typically found with short-term travel doctors. Incorporating physician moonlighters into your coverage schedule addresses different staffing needs and solves workforce challenges that are often not alleviated by locums staffing alone.

As opposed to traveling doctors, physician moonlighters are often fellows who are currently completing their fellowship training nearby, and therefore are more easily accessible for a long-term rotation of weekend or night shifts.

Due to the more long-term nature of moonlighting assignments, as compared to locum tenens assignments, the vetting of physicians is especially critical for success. Effective recruiting and credentialing teams screen and vet each physician moonlighter to ensure that he or she will fit in with the staff, acclimate to the work environment, and provide the highest quality of care.

Learn More

If you would like to explore how a moonlighting program can benefit your hospital or health system, set up a free consultation today by inquiring here on our site, or contact us by phone, or email Mike Guenther directly and mention this article: mike [dot] guenther [at] moonlightingsolutions [dot] com.

We are physician-owned and -operated, and therefore we can understand your staffing issues from a physician's perspective, to help structure the best call coverage program to meet your system's unique staff and clinical needs.