Updated: Jul 18
Millions of Americans work side hustles each month. But it may surprise you to hear that thousands of physicians also have embraced side hustle culture as a way to improve their finances.
Why would physicians want or need to work a side gig though?
Some want to get rid of student loans as quickly as possible, particularly after seemingly endless years of college, medical school, residencies, and training. Others are just fascinated by the idea of making passive income. And let's be honest - passive income can be beautiful.
Whether you are looking to make some extra side income or just want to explore your entrepreneurial side, these physician side gigs may be for you.
Top physician side gigs
I've talked to some of our physician readers, and was surprised to hear just how much interest doctors have in building some side income.
This list contains both some strategies that will leverage your skills as a doctor, and other strategies that don't. Feel free to pick those ideas that work best for you!
1. Invest early and often
The single easiest way to begin building a passive income stream is to invest as early in life (and as often) as you can. Now, investing is a little arbitrary because of the variety of stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds, and even tangible assets available to you.
Some of my favorite ways to invest include stock market exposure, dividend investing, and peer to peer lending.
Stock market investing
Doctors tend to be highly compensated individuals, so as long as you live within your means, it is likely that you'll have money to save and invest. If you're unsure how to get started investing, I recommend that you work with a financial advisor, but when I was first getting started, I quickly became enamored with Acorns, an app that will roundup your purchases and help you invest your spare change.
Plus, by joining Acorns here, you'll even receive a free $10 bonus to start.
Peer to peer lending
You may also opt to invest some money via a peer to peer lending site such as Lending Club.
I've used the platform in the past and really like the concept. Not only can you help others get the funding they need to complete renovations, go back to school, or do something else, but you can also tailor your investments to your appropriate level of risk.
Remember to consult an investment advisor if you're unsure how to proceed.
Real estate investing
Many physicians invest in real estate not just as a side gig, but as a way to diversify their assets. But depending on how hands on/hands off you're looking to be, investing in real estate can also be a great way to earn some passive income, particularly if you're willing to buy rentals and hire a property manager or management group.
Collecting rental checks each month and letting somebody else handle all of the issues that may arise? Sounds like a win to me!
2. Pursue entrepreneurism
Another approach you may take is to pursue an entrepreneurial side gig. There are far too many options to even consider here, but I've listed my favorites below.
Start a blog
There is a huge demand and market for blogs on the Internet. You may pursue a medical blog or some other passion outside of the confines of your job. You'll definitely need to like to write if you're going to go this path, but if you enjoy finding your writer's voice, it can be an excellent way to make some money.
To make money, you’re going to need viewers. This means that you’ll need to learn content marketing, copywriting, and search engine optimization. Don’t worry – it’s not really all that hard once you get the hang of it!
There are some great medical blogs out there already to help you find your inspiration, like:
Plus, I've got you covered with how to monetize a blog.
Another great idea to consider is affiliate marketing, which can really help you increase your income, particularly if you already have an audience. If you don't, this will be your first step, through social media channels, a website/blog, an email list or another source.
Then, you'll promote products, goods, and services to your readers that you've ideally used and made a difference in your life. Not only will this personal factor help make your content stand out, but it will also help you to drive sales.
In case you don't know how affiliate marketing works, you'll be compensated each time a reader, follower, or subscriber makes a purchase using your links.
Create an online course
Physicians have knowledge - and lots of it! So, if you're serious about building out a good side gig, what better way to get than to share some of your knowledge with the world via an online course?
Courses are attractive because doctors can educate the masses without needing to see patients one by one.
And while they won't pay as well as seeing patients, online medical course building can provide a nice way to build some passive income. Using an online course platform such as Teachable or Udemy, physicians can create comprehensive lesson plans that include audio recordings of lectures/talks given by the physician themselves if they choose.
Other engaging formats include interactive quizzes, case studies, video modules, and even discussion boards etc.
Just make sure you pick a topic that has sufficient demand.
3. Apply your medical knowledge
If you're not looking to stray far from your physician training and roots, consider these side gigs as a way to expand your earnings while doing what you're doing.
Complete chart reviews
Physicians are also oftentimes tapped for chart review work. Sometimes, when insurance companies dispute certain claims or pre-authorizations regarding to certain medications or procedures, existing laws and processes dictate that that an independent review be conducted.
There independent review organizations (IROs) are oftentimes looking for doctors to work as independent contractors.
If you're interested in completing chart reviews in your respective specialty, your first step should be to join NAIRO - The National Association of Independent Review Organizations.
I worked in the health insurance industry for two of the nation's largest insurers, and both of them were required to use these IROs as part of their review processes. All of the IROs that I had contact with employed qualified physicians in a number of specialty fields to assure fairness to both members and insurers through these review processes.
Provide expert witness testimony
I bet you haven't yet explored serving as an expert witness as a way to build a lucrative side gig. But, courts and legal proceedings across the country need the expertise.
Expert witnesses are most commonly brought in for cases involving negligence claims against hospitals or health insurance companies. To help prove criminal action or negligence, witnesses with medical expertise are brought in to present case facts and evaluate things from a medical angle.
You will be compensated handsomely for your time, of course.
Become a medical consultant
Medical doctors have a level of expertise that is valued in society, which provides a great opportunity for these individuals to build a second revenue stream beyond that of their day job.
The consulting opportunities for medical doctors are seemingly limitless. All types of businesses need qualified medical advice or guidance, including businesses in the finance, biotechnology, law, and other fields.
For example, businesses may hire medical professionals to understand potential downstream effects of business decisions, new product launches, and more. This has never proven truer than it has during the COVID-19 pandemic in the last couple of years.
Complete medical surveys
If you're a long-time reader of The Student Debt Destroyer, you likely know that we hype up completing paid surveys as a great internet side hustle. What you probably weren't anticipating was us suggesting this as an option for physicians nationwide.
However, there are a bunch of companies offering physician surveys, interviews, focus groups, and research opportunities. In fact, some companies advertise rates as high as $300 per hour for your time.
Let's take a look at a couple of the most popular sites for completing physician online surveys.
M3 Global is likely the most popular survey company. With over 2 million healthcare professionals in it's network, M3 offers surveys that take between 20-30 minutes, it can be a great way to make some extra money on your own time when you don't have hours laying around to focus on a new project.
Plus - payouts are normally completed within 48 hours of completing a survey.
InCrowd is another example of a survey completion company for physicians, though it is also open to other types of healthcare professionals, including nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants, psychologists, optometrists, dentists, veterinarians, and more!
It is also more convenient than M3 Global, since their micro surveys take just 5-10 minutes to complete and can be completed via mobile phone.
Physicians aren't only great learners. Oftentimes, they are among the best teachers as well. Embrace your teaching side with three additional side gigs:
Teach a class at a local college/medical school
Tutoring and MCAT preparation
Teach a class
When I was in college, my favorite classes were taught by those that had actually worked in the field I was looking to enter, rather than those that had spent a career in academia. And I'm not alone in feeling this way.
Bankers, marketers, and physicians alike all have a different and unique perspective to offer students after experiencing the rigors of the job themselves.
Beyond being a great way to bring home a few bucks, it can also be a great way to give back and spread all of your knowledge.
If you're a physician, you must have done well on your Medical College Acceptance Test (MCAT), the examination used by medical schools as part of the application process. If you've got a passion for education and helping the next generation of doctors, you may consider setting up a test preparation business.
While it may take some time to figure out your client acquisition strategy, your business can be extremely lucrative.
Related: How to start a tutoring business
I've already talked about starting a blog if it writing for money interests you, but there are other approaches you may consider if you're serious about building out a lasting side hustle.
For example, you may consider:
Writing a book
Writing for a medical journal
Other medical freelance writing activities
Other side hustles for physicians
Of course, some doctors and other healthcare providers want their other gigs to help them explore some passions separate from their day jobs. That's okay too.
Here are a few more options for you.
1. Refurbish old furniture
This side hustle has exploded in popularity over the past few years. Americans nationwide like to buy (or take donations) of old furniture, and put in some time and money to make them look good again.
This may include tasks such as sanding, staining, replacing hardware, and repurposing furniture as necessary. Then, once the piece looks good as new, you can list it on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace in an attempt to turn a profit.
2. Detail cars
If you have a passion for cars, maybe you'd like to perform car detailings in your free time. The work can be monotonous, but it is scalable and you can build efficiency as you complete more and more of them.
The upfront costs can be really low, increasing your prospective profit margins. And you can have fun marketing your services in a creative way. In time, you may even be able hire an employee or two to detail cars for you as you run the business.
Plus - you likely will be able to work on your own terms.
Some final quick ideas:
Starting a vending machine business: it does not take much money to scale, is passive income, and you likely have already built many of the relationships needed to be successful.
Learning to code and serving clients: your technical and analytical skills as a physician overlap with the skills needed to be a proficient programmer or developer. Plenty of organizations will even compensate you for work completed as you learn.
Opportunities to increase our income are all around us!
Tips for physicians starting side hustles
We've seen pretty much every mistake in the book cost physicians and other professionals the opportunity at turning a profit with a bunch of different side gigs. In this section, we will use the establishment of a medical blog as an example.
1. Keep your expenses low
The first thing that you'll want to really think through are your expenses, since these will have a direct impact on your profit.
If you're thinking about starting a medical blog, for example, your first priority should be to keep your expenses as low as possible. To get started, all you'll really need are a domain name, hosting, and a Wix, WordPress, or Squarespace account. In total, you shouldn't be spending more than $75 or so per month when you begin.
2. Do your homework
Always try to gauge market fit before you build out something like a blog or an online course.
For example, after you've decided on a website name, you won't want to jump into writing content quite yet. It is really important that you complete what is known as keyword research to assure that you are writing about topics that web readers are searching for.
No matter what type of side gig you are trying to start, the mantra of doing your homework applies.
3. Use your medical expertise
As they often say, "the riches are in the niches." You worked really hard to get a medical degree, and if you're looking to start a business or build out a side gig, you will likely have an easier time doing so by using your expertise.
Plus - the physician side gigs that we mentioned here are among those strategies with the highest future earning potential.
4. Be patient
Time for a reality check. You're not going to replace or substantially supplement your income overnight. But that's okay!
Though blogging is not the quickest path to making some revenue, it has the potential to be extremely lucrative for those that are willing to put in the work. The same holds true for other physician side hustles too!
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