Side hustles have gained an amazing amount of traction in recent years, and with good reason.
While a side hustle sounds like a great opportunity for some people to earn additional money, you may be wondering how it could work for a busy physician.
We’re 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.
We’ve identified the best physician side hustles to help you generate additional income and provided practical tips to help you maintain a healthy balance with your career and personal life.
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.
While attending physicians are typically high-income earners, it doesn’t mean they don’t face financial stress. By the time you add in housing, student loan and consumer debt payments, childcare, and utilities, money can feel in short supply.
And if you’re a resident, then the money is in even shorter supply.
Benefits of Earning Money From a Side Hustle for Physicians
Most physicians I know use a side hustle to pay down their large student loan debt or achieve another major financial milestone.
In addition to paying off student debt, some benefits go beyond the bottom line. Here are a few to consider:
- Reaching goals: Financial goals such as paying off credit cards and building emergency funds are worthwhile ways to earmark your earnings.
- Improve 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.
- Boost savings: Having a side gig can help you 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.
- Financial management: You’re 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.
- Pursuing passions: Last, and certainly not least, launching into a side hustle allows you to get creative and pursue some of your interests, turning them into a rewarding venture on multiple levels.
Bottom line—there are plenty of financial benefits to having extra money coming into your bank account. But when you add in the other benefits you might not have thought of, a side hustle can be even more worthwhile.
9 Best Side Hustles for Physicians
To pinpoint the best side hustles for doctors, we’ve consulted with physicians and looked into each opportunity’s earning potential, requirements, and key advantages.
- 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, which is temporary work used to help fill gaps in clinical settings around the country.
If you’re thinking of adding this as your side gig, make sure you double-check your contract as some contracts don’t permit you to work outside your hospital.
Taking on locum tenens work can have immediate benefits. First and foremost, the money you earn can be lucrative. Not only are you paid a higher hourly rate, but you can also get benefits such as mileage, travel, meals, and lodging.
Everything is negotiable when it comes to locums as a side gig, down to whether you’d prefer a fixed per diem versus reimbursement for expenses. Another benefit to locums work is its flexibility. You can dictate how much you want to work, from a day, week, or month-long assignment. Plus, you can dictate the location you want to work in.
How to Get Started in Locums Work
As a locums worker, your best bet is to work with a locum recruiter. You can find a locum recruiter online or ask your colleagues who they’ve used. Let the recruiter know your preferences, giving them the exact parameters you’re willing to work within a locums schedule.
Malpractice insurance will almost always be handled by the agency that is hiring you. Hopefully, you have your personal, long-term disability policy in place already. You’ll be covered under your policy while you’re working locums.
You should also be aware that the credentialing process can take weeks. You can also go through the credentialing process with more than one agency to help increase your chances of picking up locums work and finding something to fit your terms.
Several physicians choose the locums lifestyle as their permanent career choice, enjoying benefits like less paperwork and more time spent with patients. 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.
Being an expert medical witness is perfect if you’re 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, and can be used for a variety of scenarios in and outside of the courtroom. Since each task requires a different skill set, you’ll set your rates accordingly.
Here are a couple of options:
- 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 talking to attorneys about it. This process usually takes several months. In some instances, the case doesn’t ever go to trial.
- Deposition and trial: If you’re an expert witness you’ll be out of the office (or 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 by setting your rates correctly. We recommend charging for at least half a day (sometimes a full day) for the deposition and trial.
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.
3. Participating in Medical Surveys
Another popular non-clinical side hustle for physicians is to complete medical surveys. Several companies 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 last 30 minutes to an hour, making them 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, which is a significant amount of money you can put toward your specific financial goals.
How to Get Started in Medical Surveys
To get started with medical surveys, do 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, you’ll be contacted when your specialty is needed. Try keeping a spreadsheet to track your applications, 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 cash that can soon add up to major financial victories.
4. Real Estate Investing
We spend a lot of time discussing real estate investing at Financial Residency. 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 can become a passive income source for you, but it’s important to note that earning a profit in real estate takes time and isn’t always guaranteed.
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 risk tolerance.
Options for real estate investing include everything from single-family homes to crowdsourcing and real estate syndications. Whatever your skillset is, you can tailor the investment strategy to best suit you. There are also multiple ways to finance your investments.
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 and student loans not being factored in your DTI.
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 other investors. You can also listen to podcasts, join Facebook groups, and read books to dive into the subject matter.
From there, your next steps depend on which property you choose. Having direct ownership of a single-family home and renting it out each month will look different from a real estate syndication for retail properties. We have tons of resources for you here on the FR blog, too, and 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.
5. Medical Reviews
If you’re looking for something else to do on the non-clinical side that’s a little less hands-on, consider medical reviews.
Several companies provide medical reviews for businesses, such as insurance companies in the process of reviewing health insurance claims. They typically pay you for every 30 minutes you spend reviewing information.
Once you’re selected to be part of a medical review process, you’ll receive an email with 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 accept or decline the offer.
How to Get Started with Medical Reviews
The best place to get started with medical reviews is to research which companies employ medical reviewers. Once you identify some companies, you can call or email each one to find out which specialties they generally use.
Then, ask how many reviews they send out. Is it two per week, or two per month? Ideally, you want to partner with a company that will send you several a week, giving you options.
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 have a gift for writing and enjoy it, there are several ways to make a side hustle as a writer.
If there’s a subject you are passionate about (medical or not) then brainstorm which audience might also like to read about the subject. Then you can determine which format would be the most useful for your audience.
- Book: Writing a book can be lucrative, but it may take 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.
- 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 subscribers. You can also try self-publishing on a popular platform like Amazon and increase the number of sales with good marketing.
- Freelance writing: If you don’t have the patience for a book, try freelance writing for online and print publications that pay people to contribute articles. It’s a great side hustle for physicians because you can write on your schedule and get paid quickly.
- Blog: I’m naturally partial to blogging and have met a lot of other people who make money with this venture. 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.
- Medical writing: If you want to stay close to your clinical roots, 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.
How to Get Started with Writing as a Side Hustle
The best approach is to narrow down the path you’re most interested in. Decide if you want to write a book or blog, or go the freelance route.
Once you’ve narrowed down your niche, then it’s time to get started. You can research and weed through resources online or get practical advice and actionable steps from a writer who is doing what you hope to do.
If you’re going to focus on medical writing, contact pharmaceutical companies, medical research companies, health insurance providers, insurance companies, medical consulting firms, and medical device companies.
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 to pursue on the side.
As I mentioned earlier, you can write a book or an eBook. You could also teach and distribute an online course. This avenue is perfect for those of you who have a blog or website that gathers email addresses from readers.
If you don’t want to go the online route, you can 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.
How to Get Started as an Educator
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.
Think about how your professional experience and skill set could help other people, then look for gaps to fill. This will help you determine whether tutoring, writing, or designing a course is your best bet.
If you have a loyal following – either from a website or social media – then you can pitch online courses to your readers. Sites such as Teachable and Udemy are great places to start.
If you intend to tutor, check with local institutions to see if there’s a need for tutors, or consider online programs.
8. Telemedicine Doctor
Not only can being a telemedicine doctor help you earn serious side money, but it’s a gig that offers a lot of flexibility, too.
A 2022 study from the ASPE found that an average of 22% of individuals reported seeing a telehealth specialist over the last four weeks. While the numbers aren’t as high as they were at the height of the pandemic, more people are turning to telehealth services than they were before COVID-19.
For physicians who specialize in adult or pediatric care and psychiatry, telemedicine is a viable option. 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 that your contract allows you to work as a telemedicine physician, as some contracts exclude this type of work.
You’ll need 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 may want to start with a company that works in your home state. Then, as time goes on, you can pursue licensing in additional states.
Look for a telemedicine company with a high volume of calls and verify your malpractice coverage. Lastly, you’ll need to make sure you have a strong internet and phone connection. Since time is money, you don’t want to waste any time on dropped calls.
Consulting is a broad term, but there are several instances where a physician’s opinion and medical expertise are needed. This creates a great opportunity for you to earn additional income in exchange for your time and expertise.
There are a variety of situations and companies where a doctor’s input is requested. Attorneys often hire physicians to consult on legal cases, where physicians are needed to explain complex scientific jargon and put it into everyday language.
You could get involved in consulting medical device companies to provide input on a new, innovative product. The same is true for a pharmaceutical company. A great number of companies rely on the opinions of physicians as they are developing products.
How to Get Started as a Consultant
Consulting can be a lucrative way to diversify your income. You can get started consulting by networking with other physicians, as well as any associations you belong to. You’ll have to set your hourly rate or project fee, and then determine how much time you can realistically commit to consulting each week.
You’ll also need to understand the details and scope of each project before you commit. Once you do, 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’re 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 a side hustle.
How to Make Time for a Physician Side Gig
While a physician’s schedule can be quite challenging, it shouldn’t keep you from trying to hit a financial goal with additional income. You may just have to get a little more creative with your time.
Here are a few strategies to help you successfully balance your side hustle with your other obligations:
- Carve out your time: If you’re ready to take on a side hustle, start by defining how many hours you can realistically devote to it each month.
- Break down the hours: Once you identify the number of hours per month, you can break it down weekly or even daily. It helps if you work backward.
- Set boundaries: 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.
- Look for extra time: Don’t forget to add up how much time you spend each day on habits that aren’t contributing to your overall financial goals, like scrolling Instagram or binging shows on Netflix. It’s important to schedule downtime for yourself, but you may realize you have more time to devote to a side gig than you thought.
- Set goals: Make sure to establish clear financial goals. 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).
Where to Find the Best Physician Side Hustles
There are plenty of ways to go about finding a side hustle. The best place to look can vary depending on which side gig you choose to pursue.
Regardless, one of the best steps you can take is tapping into your network. Reach out to coworkers, talk to other members of the Financial Residency community, and consider joining professional networks where you can consult on side hustles.
You can also utilize LinkedIn to reach out to your community and to search for openings. Similarly, consider signing up for alerts from job boards related to the type of work you’re interested in.
Side Hustle Your Way to Financial Success
You’ve worked hard to get to this point in your medical career and made major sacrifices along the way to call yourself a doctor.
If you aren’t meeting your full earning potential yet, don’t worry—you’ll get there one day. But in the meantime, consider a side hustle to help bridge the gap.
The hardest part of earning extra income is often finding the time and deciding what side hustle you want to pursue. Once you do those two things, then the next question will be what financial goal you want to put your additional income toward.