If there’s one concept of work that’s gained an amazing amount of traction in recent years, it’s the idea of a side hustle. These days you can’t listen to a personal finance podcast or read a blog without someone mentioning some sort of side gig.
While it sounds like a great opportunity for some people to earn additional money, it can’t possibly work for a busy physician.
Or can it?
We are living in an age where almost anything is possible when it comes to side work. And I’ve found that being a physician only improves your chances of having a meaningful side gig – not limits it. Today we are going to explore the topic of holding down a side hustle while you’re focused on your primary career in medicine.
Oh, and spoiler alert: you can have both.
Why Physicians Should Consider a Side Hustle
Before we get into ways to earn additional income, you might wonder if a side gig is worth the effort.
It’s interesting because even though attending physicians are typically high-income earners, it doesn’t mean there is any less stress when it comes to finances. By the time you add in housing, student loan and consumer debt payments, childcare, and utilities – well, money can feel in short supply.
And if you’re a resident, then the money is in even shorter supply.
If you’ve ever looked at your monthly bills and find yourself saying “if only I had ___ more each month,” then you’re probably a good candidate for a side gig.
When you start to add up your monthly bills, it doesn’t take long to realize we need all the help we can get. Fortunately, help can be found by taking on a side gig.
Benefits of Earning Money From a Side Hustle
Most physicians I know use a side hustle to pay down their large student loan debt or achieve another major financial milestone. It seems easier for some people to designate their earnings from a side gig to a specific financial goal.
Financial goals such as paying off student loans, paying off credit cards, and building emergency funds, – all are worthwhile ways to earmark your earnings.
But I want you to think about the additional benefits when you use side hustle revenue towards your financial goals. Not only can you pay off debt, but there are benefits that go beyond the bottom line.
For instance, you’ll most likely improve your credit score. Since you’re lowering your debt-to-income ratio by paying down debt, then you’ll see an improvement in your credit score calculation. This will take place well before your debt is paid off since your credit report is updated each month.
Having a side gig can allow you to beef up your savings. Whether you add to your savings because you’re earning extra or not paying as much towards debt each month, it doesn’t matter. A side gig allows you to have more choices with your money, which is a great benefit.
Lastly, you are almost certain to become better at financial management. The additional revenue you earn from the side hustle requires you to make financial decisions. Each month, you’ll have to tell your money exactly where to go. You don’t want to do all the extra work only to waste the money needlessly!
Sure, there is plenty of financial benefit to having the extra money coming into your bank account. But when you add in the other benefits you might not have thought of, then it can make it even more worthwhile to you.
9 Best Side Hustles for Physicians
Hopefully, you understand the benefits of a side hustle and fitting one into your schedule. Now let’s get into the various side hustles which are well-suited for physicians, so you can start earning more.
- Locums Work
- Expert Medical Witness
- Participate in Medical Surveys
- Real Estate Investing
- Medical Reviews
- Write an eBook or Blog
- Educate Others
1. Locums Work – A Physician’s Favorite Side Hustle
We can’t talk about a side gig without bringing up the subject of locums work. Many of you are familiar with the concept, have tried it yourself, or have questions if locum tenens would be right for you.
Locum tenens work has been around for quite some time. It’s definitely not a new concept in the medical profession. It’s temporary work used to help fill gaps that are found in all sorts of clinical settings around the country.
Choosing to add locums work into your schedule can be challenging, but can have enormous benefits to you. If you’re thinking of adding this as your side gig, make sure you double-check your contract. There are some contracts that don’t permit you to work outside your hospital. But if you don’t have these limitations, then you owe it to yourself to consider locums.
Benefits of Locums Work
Taking on locums work can have immediate benefits. First and foremost, the money you can earn can be lucrative. Not only are you paid a higher hourly rate (which you can negotiate), but you can also be provided benefits such as mileage, travel, meals, and lodging.
Everything is negotiable when it comes to locums as a side gig. Even a per diem allowance is negotiable if you’d rather have a per diem versus reimbursement for other expenses.
Another benefit to locums work is the flexibility with your schedule. You can dictate how much you want to work. Whether it’s a day, week, or a month-long assignment, it’s up to you.
Plus, you can dictate the location you want to work in. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the country for an entire summer to work locums – unless this is what you want. You can stay within a radius of your current location, or you can expand the area you’re willing to work.
How to Get Started in Locums Work
Are you convinced you should try locums yet? Maybe it sounds intriguing, but you aren’t sure where to start.
As a locums worker, your best bet is to work with a locum recruiter who is familiar with both physicians and possibly your specialty.
You can find a locum recruiter by searching on the internet, or by asking your colleagues who they’ve used.
Can you only do one shift per month? Let the recruiter know. Are you willing to travel for up to a week as long as the travel and per diem expenses are covered? Add that to the list too. When you work with a recruiter, you can give them the exact parameters you’re willing to work with a locums schedule.
Malpractice insurance will almost always be handled by the agency who is hiring you, which is one less issue you have to worry about. Hopefully, you have your personal, long-term disability policy in place already. You’ll be covered under your policy while you’re working locums (one of several benefits to having your own long-term disability policy).
One aspect you should be aware of if you decide to take on locums work as your side hustle is the amount of time the credentialing process can take. It can take weeks to get everything in writing with your contract and malpractice insurance. Make sure to allow the proper time since it’s not going to happen overnight. But once you do, then you are all set.
You can also go through the credentialing process with more than one agency if you choose. This will help increase your chances of picking up locums work and finding something to fit on your terms.
Locums Work for the Long Run
You never know – you may end up liking the locums process so much that you decide to make it your full-time focus, instead of your part-time. There are several physicians who choose the locums lifestyle as their permanent career choice. There are so many benefits (think: less paperwork, more time spent with patients, less office drama) it’s easy to understand.
No matter how many shifts you choose to take on, incorporating locums work into your schedule can be a fantastic way to earn additional revenue.
2. Expert Medical Witness Work
If you’re looking for non-clinical side work, then being an expert medical witness could be an option. This line of work is needed by the legal community to review cases and potentially offer your medical opinion in the Court of Law.
Being an expert medical witness is an interesting side hustle. While you can expect to be compensated fairly for your time, you may find it a little tricky to get started.
Being an expert medical witness is perfect for those of you who are involved in the community and like networking. But unlike other side hustles, it takes time to build the connections necessary so you’ll be the first one an attorney chooses to call.
Expert medical witnesses are compensated based on the nature of the task, as well as their specialty.
Expert Medical Witnesses are used for a variety of scenarios – not only in the courtroom. Medical witnesses are needed for depositions, reviewing medical records, and going to trial. Since each task requires a different skill set, you’ll set your rates accordingly.
How to Get Started as an Expert Medical Witness
You can establish relationships with attorneys in your city who need expert witnesses for legal cases. There are also websites where you can post your resume and apply for opportunities.
An attorney will contact you when they have a case, which is why it’s good to establish relationships with the ones in your city. You’ll need to be prepared to discuss your rates right away because this will be an important part of the initial discussion with the attorney.
Once you’ve done a few cases and your reputation grows, your name will be spread through word of mouth for more work. Although expert medical witnesses are typically attending physicians (and not residents), it can be a very profitable and interesting side income. Getting established is the hardest part, but it can grow tremendously from there.
One of the most lucrative side hustles which allows you to use your medical degree to earn side income is reviewing records.
You’ll receive a file and it’s your job to review everything in it. You charge for all the time you spend reviewing the file, and your time on the phone talking to attorneys about it.
That process usually takes several months. You’ll keep track of all the time you spend going over the file material or making calls.
There are times when you review the records and the case doesn’t get to deposition. So many times the case doesn’t go to trial.
Deposition and Trial
Your normal day will typically consist of seeing patients. That means as an expert witness you’ll be out of the office (or away from the hospital). There are also times that you’ll be required to travel for cases.
It’s important to make sure your time away is covered. The way to do that is to make sure you’re setting your rates correctly. If you’re giving up one income, you need to earn its replacement–plus more to perform the special service of an expert witness. The way to do that is charging for at least half-day (sometimes a full day) for the deposition and trial.
The point is to make sure you are setting your rates correctly and setting yourself for success.
You’ll get paid well for the work you do!
3. Participating in Medical Surveys
Another popular non-clinical side hustle for physicians is to complete medical surveys. It doesn’t get much easier than completing surveys – you do it on your own schedule wherever you have access to a survey.
There are several companies that offer surveys to physicians, but pharmaceutical companies are particularly interested in getting your opinion.
Like other side hustles, the pay range for surveys runs the gamut. You should decide on the minimum you’re willing to work for and go from there. I suggest you start at $2 per minute, but you’ll get higher offers too. Most surveys are 30 minutes to an hour, making it easy to squeeze in throughout the week.
It may not sound like much, but $120 from an hour of work can add up to thousands over the year. If you completed 3 one-hour surveys a week, for 52 weeks, then you’re looking at an additional $19,000 a year. What would you do with the $19,000? Now you’re talking about a significant amount of money that can go towards your specific financial goals.
How to Get Started in Medical Surveys
To get started with medical surveys, start with an online search of the companies that offer this type of work. You will need to fill out an application for each company.
When you fill out the application, you’ll be asked for your specialty. Once you’ve applied, they’ll contact you when they need a survey for your specialty. Try keeping a spreadsheet of the ones you do apply to – and apply to as many as possible.
One piece of advice when it comes to medical surveys is to maintain your spreadsheet not only for applications but also for payment tracking. The companies typically pay in 4 to 8 weeks, and with your busy schedule, it’ll be easy for you to lose track of who has or hasn’t paid you.
Medical surveys are an easy way to earn a little extra. But don’t be fooled – this little extra can soon add up to major financial victories.
4. Real Estate Investing
If you’re looking for a side hustle that is far removed from medicine, then consider real estate investing. It’s a great way to earn extra income while doing something different from practicing medicine.
We spend a lot of time discussing real estate investing in the Financial Residency blog. It’s the path my wife and I chose to pay off our medical school debt, so it’s a personal topic as well. Real estate investing is an entire subject on its own, but it seems like it’s becoming more common among physicians.
Real estate investing can become a passive income for you, and eventually can provide an additional side income. I use the word “eventually” because earning a profit in real estate takes time and isn’t always guaranteed. Before you take the plunge into investing, you have to identify your goals and your risk tolerance level.
Options for Real Estate Investing
One of the great benefits of real estate is there are multiple ways to invest. You can pick a strategy based on your timeframe, your hands-on availability, your skillset, and again- your risk tolerance.
Options for real estate investing include everything from single-family homeownership, to crowdsourcing, to real estate syndications. You can invest in apartment complexes, duplexes, triplexes – all the plexes. You can simply invest your money and let a syndicator do the work for you, or you can be as hands-on as you want with a property.
If you don’t know your tile grout from a towel rack, then you should probably stay away from actually doing the work on an investment property. If you are handy around the house or like working with people directly, then you can pick something based on this. Whatever your skillset is, you can tailor the investment strategy to best suit you.
Just like there are multiple avenues for investing, there are multiple ways to finance your investments. Of course, you can always pay with cash for properties. You can also look into using physician mortgages or other mortgage products to finance your deal.
One reason real estate investing is a common side gig for physicians is because of your access to physician mortgage loans. Physician mortgages usually involve attractive options such as no down payment, student loans not being factored in your DTI, and other major benefits. What is a barrier for most people can be easily obtained by you with a physician mortgage loan.
How to Get Started in Real Estate Investing
Getting started in real estate investing is like most other ventures – you need to research and connect with the right people.
Before you jump into a big commitment like real estate, it pays to do your homework by talking to people who are active in what you are considering doing. You can also listen to podcasts, join Facebook groups, and read books to dive into the subject matter.
How you get started in real estate investing will be solely determined by which property you choose. Having direct ownership in a single-family home and renting it out each month will look very different from a real estate syndication for retail properties. We have tons of resources for you here on the FR blog too, plus our online community can give you extra guidance.
When you’re getting started in investing in single-family housing, you’ll want to work with a real estate agent who has an understanding of what you want to invest in.
Depending on how you choose to invest in real estate can also influence other decisions, such as hiring a property management company.
Real estate investing is such an exciting way to earn additional income. You meet new people and work with several businesses. And you also have the chance to invest in your community – and maybe even make an extra buck.
5. Medical Reviews
Real estate investing may sound impressive to you, but maybe you’re looking for something else to do on the non-clinical side that’s a little less hands-on.
Another lucrative side hustle for physicians to consider is participating in Medical Reviews. There are several companies that provide medical reviews for businesses. There are multiple companies that use the medical review process – like insurance to review health insurance claims.
Companies will typically pay you for every 30 minutes you spend reviewing information.
Once you are selected to be part of a medical review process, you’ll receive an email with your instructions and proposed payment. Most reviews have to be completed within a specific time frame. Once you see the response time and pay, then you can tell them yes or no for the work.
How to Get Started with Medical Reviews
The best place to get started with medical reviews is to begin researching which companies actually employ medical reviewers. It’s pretty simple to find out who needs this type of service. But once you identify the company, you will need to do more digging.
You can call or email each company and find out which specialties they generally use.
Once you know the specialty, ask how many reviews they send out. Is it two per week? Or two per month? How about several each week? The point is, you want to partner with a company that is sending several a week, so you can decide which ones you can take on or not.
Once a company has you in its database, you’ll get solicitations for reviews. From there, you can decide how many you want to take on and how much you’ll accept for each one. Because of the pay and flexibility, medical reviews can be a great non-clinical side hustle for physicians.
6. Write an eBook, Book, or Blog
If you enjoy writing and it’s something you are good at, then there are several ways to make a side hustle as a writer. In today’s digital age, there are several avenues you can pursue when it comes to writing. Gone are the days of pounding away at a typewriter trying to find someone to buy your story.
If there is a subject you are passionate about (and it doesn’t have to relate to medicine either) then brainstorm which audience would also like to read about the subject. Then you can determine from there which format would be the most useful for your audience.
One way to bring in extra income is to write a book. Writing a book can be lucrative, but it can be months, or years, to see revenue from your book sales. You can go the self-publishing route or shop around until you find a publisher.
Another option for writing is to write an eBook. An eBook is distributed entirely differently than a hardcover version. If you have an email list or website, you could sell your eBook to your subscribers. You can also try self-publishing on a popular platform like Amazon. Depending on how much marketing you do for your eBook can greatly impact the number of sales of a book.
If you don’t have the patience for a book, you can try freelance writing. There are multiple online and print publications that pay people to contribute articles on a freelance basis. This makes it a great side hustle for physicians because you can write based on your schedule but get paid faster than publishing a book and waiting for book sales.
One last option to consider if you love writing is to start a blog. Of course, this is an idea I’m naturally partial to, but I’ve also met many people who make money with blogging. Starting your own blog takes a lot of work upfront (website creation, writing multiple blog posts, and marketing). But eventually, you can earn a decent side income.
If you want to stay close to your clinical routes, then medical writing is another great option. Medical writers are needed to take the complex, scientific jargon and translate it into content for the medical or non-medical community.
Similar to other paths in writing, medical writing has many specialties and forums you could choose to work for. Many companies will hire medical writers on a freelance basis, which makes it ideal for side hustle work. Companies such as pharmaceutical, medical research, health insurance providers, insurance companies, medical consulting firms, and medical device companies. These are only a handful of ideas about who you could contact for medical writing opportunities.
How Physicians Can Get Started in Writing
To get started in writing, the best approach is to narrow down the path you’re most interested in. Decide if you want to write a book, blog, or go the freelance route. There’s no wrong answer here, but you will have different resources for each option.
Once you’ve narrowed down your niche, then it’s time to get started. You can research and weed through all the resources by searching on the internet. But if you want to get really practical advice and actionable steps, then try to find a writer who is doing what you hope to do. Connect with them and see if they’re willing to share their process with getting started.
If you are going to focus on medical writing then you’re in luck – as you can see from earlier, there are multiple opportunities. Again, the best approach is to narrow down the type of company or non-profit you would be most interested in pursuing. Then start reaching out to each company to explore their medical writing opportunities.
It may take a lot of upfront work to get started with writing, but once you develop your writing portfolio, you’ll be able to make this a lucrative side hustle.
7. Educate Others
If you want to earn additional income and you like the idea of educating others, then you’ll find several opportunities you can pursue on the side.
As mentioned earlier, you can write a book or an eBook, which are great choices when you want to educate other people. But there are other ideas you could consider for teaching others.
You can teach and distribute an online course. This avenue is perfect for those of you who have a blog or website which gathers email addresses from readers. If you have a loyal following – either from a website or social media – then you can pitch the online course you are offering. Sites such as Teachable and Udemy are places to start.
If you don’t want to do the online path, you can always offer tutoring services on your days off. You can tutor students or adults. Along the same lines, you can create and sell study guides for different types of exams.
These are only a handful of ideas you could use if you like to teach others and need a side hustle. You can also pursue more than one of these options. No matter what you choose, if you enjoy educating people you can probably earn a side income from it.
8. Telemedicine Doctor
Being a telemedicine doctor can not only help you earn serious side money, but it’s a gig that has a lot of flexibility too.
For physicians who specialize in adult or pediatric care and psychiatry, then telemedicine is probably an option for you. There are a few websites that offer specialty calls, but for the most part, it’s limited to internal medicine, family practice, and pediatric specialists.
How to Get Started as a Telemedicine Doctor
The first task you should complete is to verify your contract allows you to work as a telemedicine physician. There are contracts that exclude this type of work for you.
To get started, you’ll have to partner with telemedicine companies that allow you to consult on a part-time basis. You’ll also have to be licensed in each state you receive a call from. For this reason, you could start with a company that needs someone in your home state. Then, as time goes on and if you decide this is the side hustle you’ve been waiting for, you can go for licensing in additional states.
You’ll want to partner with a telemedicine company that has a high volume of calls. You’ll also want to verify your malpractice coverage and how it’s handled with each company. Lastly, you’ll need access to a great internet and phone connection. Since time is money, you don’t want to waste any time on dropped calls!
Consulting can be a rather broad term, but there are several instances where a physician’s opinion and medical expertise is needed. This creates a great opportunity for you to earn additional income in exchange for your time and expertise.
You can find consulting gigs for multiple short-term projects in which physicians are needed. There are a variety of situations and companies where a doctor’s input is requested: medical device and pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and legal services to name a few.
Attorneys will often use physicians to consult on legal cases. Physicians are also needed to explain complex scientific jargon and put it into everyday language.
You could get involved in consulting the medical device companies to provide input on a new, innovative product. The same is true for a pharmaceutical company. There are a great number of companies that rely on the opinions of physicians as they are developing their products.
How to Get Started as a Consultant
Consulting can be a lucrative way to partner with companies and diversify your income. You can get started with consulting by networking with other physicians, as well as any associations you belong to. You’ll have to determine your hourly rate or project fee, and then determine how much time you can realistically commit to the consulting each week.
You’ll also need to understand the details and scope of each project before you commit. Once you do, you should make sure you and the client have the details in writing so the expectations are clear. You can even request sample reports if you need to.
No matter which route you choose, when you are a physician it can open up many doors that might not be open to other people. Whether you choose the clinical or non-clinical route, there’s no doubt you can find something for your side hustle.
Finding Time for a Side Hustle
I’m sure at this point some of you are thinking you’d love to bring in the extra money, but you don’t have the time or energy to take on a side venture. This is to be expected when you’re busy focusing on your patients, your family, and other commitments.
And while a physician’s schedule can be quite challenging, it shouldn’t keep you from trying to hit a financial goal with additional income. It only means you have to get a little more creative with your time.
Taking on a side hustle takes balancing, but I find most people can find room in their schedules. The key is to ask yourself how you can become more efficient with your time.
Carving Out Your Time
If you are ready to take on a side hustle, start by defining how many hours you can realistically devote to it each month.
Once you identify the number of hours per month, you can break it weekly or even daily. It helps if you work backward. While you’re at it, ask yourself how far you’re willing to travel and if you’re willing to use vacation time to take on additional work.
Oh and don’t forget to add up how much time you spend each day on habits that aren’t contributing to your overall financial goals. Habits such as Instagram, Facebook, or Netflix are a few which come to mind.
Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely need to schedule downtime for ourselves, and you should continue to do so. But by answering these questions, you may realize you have more time to devote to a side gig than you thought.
Make sure you have your clear financial goals determined too. For instance, if you have $50,000 in student loan debt you want to pay off within two years, then you can break it down per month (roughly $2100 per month).
When your goal is identified, you can put together a plan for a realistic side hustle. Remember, taking on a side hustle is usually temporary. It’s something you do for a short-term goal. When you’re exhausted and can’t stomach the thought of another task on your plate, then focus on how different your life can look when you achieve your goal.
Side Hustle Your Way to Financial Success
You’ve worked hard to get to this point in your medical career. You’ve made major sacrifices along the way to call yourself a doctor. If you aren’t earning your full potential yet, don’t worry, you’ll get there one day. But in the meantime, consider a side hustle to help bridge the gap.
Having a side hustle is the new norm. The good news is, you have plenty of resources at your fingertips to be able to find one which works for you.
Hopefully today we’ve given you several actionable ideas for earning extra income – or at least given you a few sparks for a list of ideas. Often the hardest part of earning extra income is finding the time and deciding what you want. Once you do those two things, then the next question will be what financial goal do you want to use your additional income towards?