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Event Medicine: A Unique Side Gig for Doctors Looking for New Experiences

Event medicine is one of the more unique and potentially fun side gig opportunities we’ve seen for doctors. Many large concerts, sporting events, and other events have an on-site physician to help participants, such as the musicians or athletes, or spectators. Below, we cover what you might expect when working this side gig, what compensation may look like, and how to find opportunities for interested doctors.

A summary of what it's like working an event medicine side gig as a physician

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Introduction to event medicine

As the name implies, event medicine physicians provide medical care onsite at events or settings where there is a higher than normal possibility of a participant or audience member requiring medical care, or where in settings where a nearby medical facility is not readily accessible. Events will hire physicians, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, and others to ensure the safety of these events, and prevent an otherwise exciting experience from turning sour. Larger events may have a field hospital with an extensive staff of 50+ physicians, EMTs, paramedics, and nurses. Several events actually need these medical services available to comply with local regulations and ensure public safety, and have to prove that they have access to medical care to receive permits to host the event. 

What types of events hire doctors?

Event medicine covers a wide range of different types of events, some more obvious than others. Some examples of opportunities that exist include:

  • Working concerts (Taylor Swift fans, rejoice)

  • At music festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, or Ultra

  • Working the medical tent at a marathon

  • Ringside at a boxing match 

  • On the sidelines of a major sporting event

  • Standby at a racing event, ranging from motorsports (NASCAR) to horses (The Kentucky Derby)

  • As a set medic for TV and movie production sets

  • As backup medical care at an extreme sporting event

  • On site medical care at a major construction site

  • Corporate retreats 

  • Tour companies leading expeditions to remote locations

What does an event doctor do?

Event doctors help with acute situations that may occur on site in these different settings. Common situations could include giving sutures to someone who got a little too rowdy in the mosh pit,  starting an IV for someone who became dehydrated, treating an allergic reaction, providing medications or medical care for a drug overdose, or starting CPR or using an AED on someone who became unresponsive.  

While some event physicians simply have to stabilize the patient and coordinate a transition of care and transportation to the nearest emergency room, the nature of the event will dictate the level of care you’re required or expected to provide.

At remote events like Burning Man, where there isn’t easily accessible medical care and or in settings where the likelihood of a more serious medical issue occuring is high, the complexity of medical care needed and the facilities present can be more extensive. For example, some of these events have critical care beds with ventilators or large ice water tanks for hyperthermia. However, the amount of equipment you have may still be very limited, as you typically won’t have access to EKGs, X-rays, ultrasounds, or labs.

There aren’t always specific standards for event medicine, so how well the event is run and how well the medical tent/field hospital is staffed and stocked can depend heavily on the event organizer. If you happen to have a bad experience but love the atmosphere and vibe, consider giving it another shot through a different organizer.

While working as an event doctor can be a great way to experience an event, don’t plan on kicking back and enjoying the show. Smaller events may be more relaxed with opportunities to roam a bit, but on-call volume fluctuates and may keep you very busy, especially at large events like music festivals and Ironman races, similar to physicians’ experiences working as cruise ship doctors.

Who is event medicine good for?

Event medicine is a great fit for emergency medicine physicians seeking side gigs, as well as other physicians who feel comfortable with urgent care or trauma situations, especially ones that enjoy the ambiance and adrenaline of large crowds and competitions. With event medicine, you should expect to have to think fast on your feet and work with what you have, so it’s important that physicians are comfortable working alone and are problem solvers. Doctors who are used to working in busy emergency rooms or urgent care settings are typically more comfortable with triaging patients and thinking quickly with the available resources on hand.

While emergency medicine physicians are a great fit for this role, any physician with BLS certification could be a good candidate.  Some events will have very specific training requirements, while others are less stringent. In most cases, basic life support certifications will be required. Some may require that you bring your own medical equipment, although if done through an agency, they will likely provide you with the materials that you need. Many companies that contract and work with event doctors regularly may also have their own in-house trainings. 

Some events that are more niche may have their own requirements depending on their setting, such as the ability to scuba dive or ski.

If you have an interest in music or sports, event medicine can be a great way to enjoy a hobby or unique experiences while earning additional income. Several years ago, a member of our Physician Side Gigs community posted about how they were an event doctor, and the lead singer of a VERY popular band told all the physicians they’d be busy during the concert, so they played the event staff a private mini-set in gratitude. Other physicians have gotten to view major sporting events from the sidelines. Given how much tickets can cost for these events, it can be a win-win for everyone involved.

Consider a different side gig if you:

  • Prefer guaranteed air conditioning or heating, depending on the season

  • Are more comfortable working in a team setting where you have access to a lot of information and resources

What does being an event doctor pay?

Pay can vary widely depending on your exact role. Many physicians have said pay is similar to what they get paid as a physician working at an emergency room or urgent care. However, if this is an in demand event where they are required to have physicians on site but the physician is backing up EMS and there are hospitals very nearby or if there is a low likelihood of needing a physician, some events will pay a lower hourly rate (in the $100-$150 rate). On the flip side, if there is a high likelihood of needing significant care, if the event is in a remote location, or it is an extended assignment away from home, they may pay a more attractive rate than what you'd normally be paid as a physician. If there is a very boutique need, such as being the on call physician for a celebrity, rates can go up significantly. And of course, as a perk of the gig, provided that there aren't any major medical events, you also have the opportunity to see/hear some great events.

How do I get an event medicine doctor side gig opportunity?

You can find these positions through a few different routes. Word of mouth is one common avenue. Special event staffing agencies exist to help events manage their on-site medicine, so they are another great option to reach out to for open positions.

If you’re still in residency, check with your program. Some university hospitals have event medicine opportunities for their residents, including the university’s athletic events such as football games and swim meets. They may also work with the local community for events such as the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show or high school state athletic tournaments.

If you’ve already completed residency, it may be worth reaching out to local universities or event organizers near you to see if they have needs and, if so, how you might be able to get involved. Get creative with your networking to expand your word of mouth opportunities.

If you have a particular event in mind that you would like to work, check out the event’s website and see who the event management company is. Reach out to them to inquire about opportunities.

Also, make sure you are signed up for our locums/per diem database, as we sometimes work with companies in this space to staff events (members only, please inquire on the physician communities).


Event medicine can be a great change of scenery from the hospital and can, depending on the event, offer a slower (or faster) change of pace. If you love pop culture and entertainment, it can be a great alternative to moonlighting and may offer the same amount of pay. It can also provide opportunities to network outside of your traditional work setting.

If event medicine sparked an interest but might not be the perfect fit, check out some of these other opportunities we’ve covered.

Learn more

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