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Why can’t faculty members moonlight?

Moonlighting is prohibited for all full-time School of Medicine faculty physicians. "Full-time" includes all university-paid faculty members whose employment status is 0.50 FTE or greater and who have regular faculty appointments. This prohibition against moonlighting, which is strictly enforced, derives from policies governing University Physicians, Inc. (UPI) as well as the University of Colorado Malpractice Trust. Both documents require School of Medicine faculty members to devote 100 percent of their professional time and effort to the university.

Moonlighting, clinical consulting and locum tenens work are prohibited, even during weekends and vacations. Here is why:

  • ​Every full-time faculty member, at the time of hire, must sign a Member Practice Agreement with UPI. The agreement is mandated by the University of Colorado Board of Regents as a condition of faculty appointment. The agreement is a binding contract that obligates each faculty member to assign all clinical practice and other professional income to UPI. This includes all earned income, even during weekends, nights and vacations.

    "Clinical practice and other professional income" is defined broadly in the agreement; such income includes all work that relates to a faculty member's training, expertise and professional duties.

    Unrelated income—for example, from a lawn care business or private music lessons—is not restricted by this contract. There is also a narrow exception for certain types of small, one-time academic honoraria. The university has strictly and vigorously enforced, in court, the prohibition against moonlighting.​

  • Moonlighting also violates the provisions of the Colorado Government Immunity Act (GIA) and jeopardizes a faculty member's malpractice protection. Regular, full-time (> 0.50 FTE) university-employed faculty members are considered "public employees" under the GIA, and their malpractice liability is limited to $350,000 per person and $990,000 per incident. But the "public employee" status—and this malpractice insurance protection—only apply if a faculty member has "no independent or other health care practice." A faculty member who moonlights may no longer be considered a public employee under Colorado law and may not be covered by the GIA and the university's self-insurance trust. 

  • A faculty member who moonlights jeopardizes not only his or her malpractice protection for the moonlighting work but also for clinical practice at the university and its affiliated hospitals. Thus, moonlighting can result in unlimited liability and no malpractice insurance coverage from the University of Colorado. Note that work for other public entities, such as Denver Health or the Veterans Administration, is not considered an "independent or other health care practice" and is permitted.


    Information for Part-Time and Volunteer Faculty Members

    • Separate provisions apply to volunteer faculty members and to those who are paid on a part-time basis. Part-time, paid (<0.50 FTE) faculty members sign an Associate UPI Member Practice Agreement that does not restrict their outside clinical or consulting practices. However, if they also have an outside health care practice: a) they are covered by the self-insurance trust only for injuries caused by a student, intern or resident under their supervision; and b) they are not covered by the self-insurance trust for their own acts or omissions and must maintain their own malpractice coverage for work performed within and outside the university.

    • Volunteer faculty members, who receive no payment or compensation from any university sources are covered by the university self-insurance trust for those services that are volunteered.

    • Part-time and volunteer physicians must have active clinical faculty appointments to receive coverage by the University of Colorado Malpractice Trust.


    Occasionally, an outside clinical practice is considered vital to a faculty member's work and to the School of Medicine. In these exceptional circumstances, UPI and the School of Medicine can structure contractual agreements to bring this outside work into a School of Medicine cost center, so that earned income can be provided as an incentive to the faculty member. When properly executed, such outside clinical work is no longer considered moonlighting; rather, it becomes a component of the faculty member's work for the university, and the legal entanglements discussed above are avoided. In these unique circumstances, the faculty member and his or her department should work closely with UPI to structure an agreement that permits the faculty member to perform the activities in question.​​​