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How Much Can You Make Doing Paid Medical Surveys as a Doctor, and Is it Worth It?

If you ask about a flexible side gig on our Facebook physician communities, within minutes you’ll likely see a recommendation to try paid online medical surveys for doctors. These are one of the easiest physician side hustles to get into, as there’s no commitment and you don’t require any special skillsets aside from the ones you already have as a practicing physician. However, shortly after this recommendation you may see mixed reviews - some physicians will say they do these regularly and make over $10,000 a year, while others will say that they have signed up and not received many opportunities. Others might say that the compensation with some companies is better than others, or that the opportunities don't pay well enough. Below, we’ll cover some of the factors that can help determine if doing paid medical surveys is a good physician side gig for you.


Disclosure/Disclaimer: Our content is for generalized educational purposes.  While we try to ensure it is accurate and updated, we cannot guarantee it. We are not formal financial, legal, or tax professionals and do not provide individualized advice specific to your situation. You should consult these as appropriate and/or do your own due diligence before making decisions based on this page. To learn more, visit our disclaimers and disclosures.


Quick facts of paid medical surveys as a physician side hustle

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Sign up for paid medical surveys with some of the best and most recommended paid online medical survey companies on our communities. 


If you’ve established a medical survey side gig, you’ll want to maximize the tax benefits of 1099 income for physicians



What are paid medical surveys?


Put simply, paid medical surveys are opportunities for physicians to provide their expertise to companies seeking their opinions. 


There are different ways that these surveys can be done, although in most cases, the ones physicians on our communities are referring to are paid online medical surveys where you answer questions on your computer. These are typically referred to as quantitative medical surveys, where the data is an aggregate of numbers and standardized answers to directed questions. In most of these cases you won’t be providing long drawn out answers, and they typically take anywhere from a few minutes to about 30 minutes, although some can be longer.


There are also qualitative medical surveys, where they’ll want you to provide more in depth answers that include the rationale behind your responses or your opinions on a topic. This is usually via longer responses that are given either on the phone, in person, or a video call. These types of surveys tend to take longer (but also tend to pay better than online only medical surveys).


Types of paid medical surveys

Many of the companies we have listed as offering paid medical surveys offer both quantitative and qualitative medical surveys (but usually more quantitative). If you want to engage in more qualitative research where you get paid more consulting rates, we also recommend signing up for our Physician Side Gigs consulting database and matching services



How much money can you make doing paid medical surveys as a physician?


Perhaps not surprisingly, the answer is that it depends. We have physicians in the group who have stated they’ve made as much as over $30,000 in a year by doing medical surveys, several that claim they make $10,000 or above, and others that say they haven’t made anything or so little that it wasn’t worth their time signing up.


Factors that determine how much you will make from doing paid medical surveys as a doctor include:

  • Your specialty: This will determine how many surveys you get and how much you are paid per minute. We expand upon this in more depth below.

  • Your level of experience: If you are a resident or fellow, it’s likely not worth your time to sign up just yet. While there may be an occasional survey you qualify for, most of these research companies want you to have a few years of experience as a practicing physician. Otherwise, you’ll screen out of a lot of surveys.

  • The number of paid medical survey companies you are signed up for:  Obviously, the more potential opportunities that come across your plate, the more you can make. We have a long list of paid medical survey companies recommended by members of the communities, so sign up for as many of them as you want!

  • The speed at which you take advantage of these opportunities: Many of these will fill fast, so if you are someone who will do the survey as soon as it lands in your inbox, you’ll make more.

  • The number of surveys you’ve done for a particular medical company in the past: Many companies give preference to physicians who tend to respond to survey invites, and send them more opportunities.

  • The amount of money that you’re willing to do surveys for: Obviously, the lower pay that you are willing to accept for your per minute rate, the more of these opportunities will be appealing to you. As with everything in the communities we encourage you to know your worth and ignore the opportunities that aren’t worth your time. Some companies pay better than others; it’s just how it is. Also know that some companies pay certain specialties better than others based on their client base, so you may find that you do better with one company than another while your colleague in another specialty does better with another one.

  • The survey companies that you are signed up for: This also matters. As we touch on below, some companies have a better reputation for paying well, and just as importantly, actually paying. If you have to spend your time chasing payments, you’re less likely to do the opportunities again in the future, therefore making less money. Start with the companies on our paid medical surveys list, who have a reputation for paying reliably and on time in our communities.


Summary of the 7 factors that determine how much you can make doing paid medical surveys as a physician side hustle


Is doing medical surveys worth it and is it a good physician side hustle?


This is a subjective question and depends on your goals for your side gig. If your goal is to get the most lucrative side gig ever, you’re probably better off looking at real estate, consulting, or expert witness type opportunities. Paid medical surveys are generally a low lift, offer flexibility and the ability to do as much or as little as you want, and don’t require any upfront capital or additional skill sets. As such, it’s one of the easiest physician side hustles and you can literally get started right away just by signing up to do paid medical surveys


With that flexibility comes the fact that many physicians sign up to do these, and supply and demand market forces allow survey companies to pay less for these opportunities than other side gigs where they may have to seek out very specific expertise or require a huge time commitment or upfront cost.


We see some patterns in our communities. At younger stages when physicians are just starting out, are building families, and have debt and other major financial obligations, they tend to be happier with the bonus money that comes from doing medical surveys, as it can give them a little more wiggle room in their budgets for discretionary spending. As they progress throughout their careers, a lot of the specialties that don’t get as many paid medical survey opportunities or find other more lucrative side gigs, they will tend to drop off from doing them. Some physicians love the extra bonus money and find them to be so easy and flexible that they stay on these panels and just do them when they happen to have free time, while deleting the ones that don’t pay well, are too long, or otherwise not worth their time. This is probably what we see most often.


We’ll also often see that if a medical survey company very much underestimates what they should be paying a physician for these opportunities, they will tend to raise the compensation. So if you don’t think the pay that is offered initially is worth it, feel free to delete the survey, and don’t be surprised if you see it pop back up in your inbox for higher compensation.


The physicians that are making five figure amounts doing these paid online medical surveys in their pajamas in their free time will likely tell you it’s worth it, assuming they didn’t have other things they wanted to do during that time. Other doctors on our communities get frustrated that they aren’t getting very many opportunities or that they screen out of surveys often (and not get paid for that time), and they’ll tell you it’s not worth it.  There is of course also the very real added bonus of getting a voice in how these drugs and devices come to market and impact patient care and options (but we do believe you should get adequately compensated for your expertise in the same way that the companies developing these do, so we're not suggesting you do it solely for that reason).


In other words, you’ll likely have to try it and see for yourself if it’s something that you want to spend your free time doing, depending on your opportunity costs in spending time on these and your earning potential.



Which physician specialties tend to get more or less paid medical surveys?


These are not hard and fast, as depending on what’s going on in the world, what the latest and greatest medical breakthroughs and medical news is, and more, there are reasons why there may be an unusual surge in surveys for particular specialties. For example, during COVID, it felt like there were a lot more surveys available for physicians in critical care and preventative and primary care specialties on our communities. Flu season can mean more surveys for certain specialties as well.


However, in general, specialties with more active drug development, expensive drugs, more use of medical devices, and more active research tend to get more surveys. The specialty most requested by companies on our paid medical survey companies list is usually hematology oncology, followed by other specialties with many specialized and expensive drugs or biologics which have ongoing research, such as neurology and rheumatology. Gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, allergists, surgeons, endocrinologists, and cardiologists also tend to get more surveys due to similar reasons. Dermatologists and psychiatrists often say they get better paid surveys, even though they may not get as many. These are often the types of specialties that we see talking about making five figure amounts in surveys.


Specialties that get paid the highest for paid medical surveys

Primary care specialties and specialties where there aren't as many new drugs, devices, or equipment in the pipeline tend to have less surveys, although again, this isn’t always the case depending on what’s going on in the world. On the whole, though, we would say this tends to be more fun bonus spending money for these specialties, rather than a substantial income stream that you’ll be funding that physician solo401k with.


The good news is that aside from signing up for the paid medical survey companies, which is free, there isn’t anything you have to do afterwards, so if you don’t get a lot of surveys, the only time you’ve wasted is usually the time signing up. There is an exception to that, which is if you tend to get surveys and spend time doing the screeners, but have a demographic or practice profile that tends to get screened out, that can be really frustrating. Our bet is that you stop attempting them pretty soon after you’ve screened out a few times, which we understand.



How do doctors sign up to do paid medical surveys online?


The first step is to sign up online for paid medical survey opportunities from companies that offer them. This is generally quick and free, and just requires you putting in some identifying information so that they can find medical survey opportunities relevant to you. We have a list of the best and most recommended paid online medical survey companies based on the recommendations of our Physician Side Gigs community. These are based on companies that our members have had luck with and that actually pay reliably (you’d be surprised how many companies do not pay reliably - we’ve had to remove several off of our list because of this in the past).



How do doctors actually do the paid medical surveys? 


In most cases, you will receive an email in your inbox notifying you that there is a study whose criteria that they think you match based on the information that you signed up to do medical surveys with. In most cases, the email will tell you the basic topic of the survey, how long it is expected to take, and what you will be compensated for your time. If it’s appealing to you, you will then click on that link, answer some screener questions, and if you qualify, it will take you into the more extensive medical survey. It’s really that easy.


Occasionally, if you receive a request for a qualitative medical survey, the initial information and screening process will be similar to the online quantitative medical survey, but if you qualify, you will be asked to schedule a time for a phone call or online meeting.


After you finish your survey opportunity, the amount of time it takes to get paid will vary from company to company. Some paid medical survey companies will pay you instantaneously on an online portal (often with gift cards or money that you can deposit to a PayPal account). Other companies will wait a few weeks for studies to close and then issue your payment either electronically or (very rarely these days) via check.


That’s it. It’s pretty straightforward. 



Conclusion


Depending on who you ask, their specialty, and their stage of practice, you’ll probably get different answers to the question of whether or not doing paid medical surveys is worth it. The good news is that signing up to do medical surveys is fast, easy, free, flexible, and comes with no obligations, and most companies generally don’t contact you unless they have an opportunity for you. Therefore, if you decide to sign up to do medical surveys and ultimately don’t think it’s the right physician side gig for you, you can always just decide not to do them. 


If you want to try it out, check out our list of the best and most recommended medical survey companies by our physician members. These are companies that our members have said currently pay reliably (as we’ve had to take several companies off that list in the past due to reports of them not paying in a timely manner or sometimes even at all)!  


There are so many medical research companies out there offering surveys who aren’t on our list. This may be because members have reviewed them negatively or just because they’re less well known or smaller companies we don’t know as much about. Occasionally, members will get cold contacted by companies on platforms such as LinkedIn with company names we haven’t heard of. Be cautious about giving companies your information or doing opportunities without upfront payment if you don’t know if they’re reputable. If you have a question about any of them, feel free to ask about them in our physician communities. After that, you can decide if it’s worth it for you!

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