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10 Popular Side Hustles for Physicians

Physicians look for side hustles (or as we call them, side gigs) for many reasons, some of which we list below. Regardless of the why, side hustles have become very popular for physicians and are only growing in popularity annually. Each year, we help contribute to the Medscape Physician Side Gigs Report. The Medscape Physician Side Gigs Report 2023 showed that 39% of all physicians have a side gig and earned on average $34,000 a year from their side gig.


Whether you’re looking to start your first physician side hustle or to explore additional options, we’ve got you covered. Below, we break down the 10 of the most popular side hustles for physicians –both medical and non-medical. Make sure you check out the dedicated section of our website for physician side gigs as well as the side gigs section of our blog for many more.


A summary of the 10 popular physician side hustles covered in the article below, both medical and non-medical

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Benefits of Having a Physician Side Hustle


While there are so many reasons our members have decided to pursue a side gig, there are several reasons that are amongst the most popular cited on our physician communities. Some of them are:

  • Extra money to pay off student loans or mortgage

  • The desire to cut back on clinical work because of alternative income streams

  • The allure of passive income

  • Saving up for the birth of a child and an extended parental leave

  • Saving up for your first rental property or syndication investment

  • The desire to achieve financial freedom (FIRE)

  • Wanting to monetize an existing passion project

  • Diversification of career options

  • The ability to walk away from a bad situation

  • Enhanced work-life balance

Let’s move on to some popular examples of physician side hustles! We’ll cover some medically related ones and some non-medically related ones.


Medically Related Side Hustles for Physicians


There are several advantages to having a medically related side gig. The biggest is that you likely already have much of the expertise required to do the side gig, so it’s easy to get up and running without needing a lot of new skill sets, equipment, or certifications. Additionally, in most cases, medical side gigs pay better than side gigs that non-physicians could do, as they're hiring you for your expertise as a physician, which (hopefully) they'll respect has value. As you explore these gigs, remember to #KnowYourWorth. On the flip side, a potential disadvantage of having your side hustle be medically related is that it may not provide the mental break from clinical work that so many of us enjoy about side gigs. There's also a lot of competition for medically related side gigs these days. We put out side gig opportunities regularly to our physician side gigs databases on the communities, and they almost all fill within in a few hours, and sometimes within less than half an hour.


We cover five of the most popular medically related side gigs below. Explore our side gigs and nonclinical careers (several are good side hustles too) pages for even more ideas to help you find a side hustle you’re passionate about that you’ll enjoy.



Medical Consulting

Medical consulting generally entails being hired by a company to consult on a specific project utilizing your experience. There are lots of possibilities, including:

  • Advising an EHR company on software improvements or new features

  • Giving feedback about a product to a medical device company

  • Giving feedback about a drug in development by a pharmaceutical company

  • Providing input to a medical drama or to the media

  • Giving advise to start up or venture capital companies about new ideas in the medical space

  • Advising on policy issues nationally

With your medical background, you already have the specialized training required to become a medical consultant. Different companies may have additional requirements for their ideal consultant, so it’s important to explore different opportunities to find a niche that fits your particular skill set, training, and credentials.


Pros

  • Allows you to utilize your professional experience and credentials as a physician

  • Often allows great flexibility. Some opportunities only require an hour or two at a time

  • Can pay pretty well, especially for highly specialized individuals

  • Provides insight and can allow you to help steer the direction and future of the healthcare industry

  • Could turn into a more permanent role such as being on the advisory board of a startup or even a new nonclinical job

Cons

  • May be difficult, at least at first, to find opportunities that match your particular background and expertise (join our Physician Side Gigs consulting opportunity database for alerts of relevant consulting project side hustles)

  • If you prefer 1-on-1 interactions, consulting offers less direct interactions

  • These opportunities can be highly competitive, depending on your skill set

  • Maybe require travel that is uncompensated or under-compensated, lowering the overall incentive



Expert Witness

Expert witness work is a side gig that many physicians accidentally fall into when contacted by an attorney seeking their expertise. It's another popular side gig because it's an obvious extension of your formal training and background, and very little is needed in terms of an extra skillset. You'll want to learn the business of the expert witness world so that you understand how to structure a contract and set a fee schedule, but otherwise, you can hit the ground running immediately.


The job of a physician expert witness is essentially to carefully examine the facts of a legal case, using medical records and whatever other information is available to them, to help assist courts and juries in understanding the complex issues surrounding the case on trial.


Attorneys are always looking for new expert witnesses as having been an expert witness in a previous case is public record and precedence may work against the attorney’s case, depending on the situations in the current case and the previous work.


Pros

This is a popular physician side hustle for several reasons, including:

  • You don’t need a separate skill set

  • It’s flexible with commitment (only take cases when you want to)

  • Can be very lucrative (most physicians on our expert witness database list their fees between 350-850 an hour, with some with niche expertise charging multiples of that)

  • Can help you keep up to date with medical knowledge and further develop your expertise as you review and consult


Cons

  • Finding opportunities can be difficult, though we offer an expert witness database, where we notify interested physician members of our Physician Side Gigs Facebook community when interested legal parties are looking for help

  • Consistent work isn’t a guarantee

  • If you do this a lot, you do have to be objective, which means you may find yourself testifying on both sides, the physicians and the plaintiffs

  • It can be difficult to plan for trial dates and there are often delays and changes, some of which are last minute. Along these lines, make sure you protect yourself from losses from the time you've blocked off by including a cancellation policy in your retainer.

Learn more about expert witness work.


Medical Surveys

Medical surveys have historically been one of the easiest ways to have a side gig and make some 1099 income as a physician. They are completely flexible without any required commitments. You will receive and invitation to offer your opinions, and if you happen to be available and interested, you jump onto the survey and answer it. There are no skillsets outside of being a physician required and no need to learn about a new industry.


Essentially, market research firms are looking for clinician opinions related to patient care, medications, and medical products. They will pay you for your input for their research and development process or feedback regarding existing products or services.


While typically on the lower end of the pay scale per occurrence, there are several sites that offer medical survey opportunities to physicians for side hustle money. Many members of our Facebook communities make five figures in a year doing medical surveys as their side hustle (and one even reported 6 figures, though this is by far an outlier).


Pros

  • You can impact the way companies make decisions and contribute to improvements or innovation in patient care

  • Easy to get started (literally just have to sign up for medical survey companies and wait to hear from them)

  • Maximum flexibility to only complete surveys when convenient and of interest

  • A quick, easy way to earn a little extra cash during your downtime


Cons

  • Per minute compensation varies widely. Also, surveys tend to be between 5-30 min long (though there are some longer ones), so even if the per minute compensation is decent, you probably won't make the same money as with other side gigs unless you happen to be in a select few specialties.

  • Surveys can take longer than the stated time, lowering the effective per minute compensation

  • You don’t tend to get paid for time put in if you’re screened out in the selection process

  • Depending on your specialty, you may not get very many surveys



Medical Writing

Medical writing allows you to use the creative side of your brain while providing extra income as a side hustle. The length of each writing assignment or piece depends on the opportunity. It could range from a quick 500 word website article you knock out in a day or a research grant that takes months to complete. There are plenty of opportunities, including:

  • Content creation for consumer health websites or healthcare related companies

  • Running a health blog

  • Regulatory writing for pharmaceutical companies

  • Writing CME and board review questions

  • Medical journalism

  • Editing journal manuscripts or other medically related content

  • Writing a novel with a medical spin

A lot of these opportunities predominantly involve brand-building, networking, and the tried and true - searching Google. If you’re interested in medical writing, it helps to have a portfolio of writing samples and a website that showcases them, along with your expertise.


Writing, like medical surveys, allows you the flexibility of taking gigs only when you want them, but it can be difficult to find opportunities depending on your previous experience. Often times, you will start out by contributing your writing for free to build a portfolio and brand, in hopes that paid writing opportunities will follow.


Pros

  • Lets you express your creativity while still using your medical background

  • Helps you become an authority figure and leading expert in what you’re writing about, building your credibility and brand

  • Can help you become an influencer and lead to further side hustle opportunities, such as speaking and advisory board positions

  • Opportunities for advancements in pay as you build your portfolio of work


Cons

  • Can require s a larger upfront time commitment than some other medical side hustles, as you have to build up your side gig and brand, along with a portfolio of pieces to showcase before you steadily get writing assignments

  • Rates depend highly on the type of writing, but likely don’t pay as well as other industry-specific side hustles, at least to start

  • As anyone with a MFA can probably tell you, it’s hard to find consistent work and to break into some of the more popular writing opportunities

Learn more about medical writing.


Telemedicine

Telemedicine is mentioned often within our Facebook groups as it’s an easy extension on the work clinical physicians already do. These jobs can vary widely in terms of time commitment, scope of practice, and reimbursement.


There are three primary avenues to start a telemedicine side hustle:

  • Through your private practice

  • On your own

  • As a contractor for a large telemedicine company

Telemedicine Through Your Private Practice

If you run a private practice, you could get a telemedicine side hustle set up almost instantly. You may be able to do this through existing HIPAA software you already own, or free HIPAA compliant mediums such as Zoom (please make sure this is this case currently).

Telemedicine On Your Own

If you want to provide your own telemedicine services, there are several platforms that you can white-label to reflect your brand, many of which either have or integrate with EHR, scheduling, and payments software.

Telemedicine As a Contractor

Telemedicine companies are also always looking for physicians to provide services through their platforms. Many offer malpractice insurance, though you’ll want to confirm the coverage–including whether they offer tail insurance. They often have requirements for minimum hours a week or month they want you to commit for, although some do allow you to hop on when you’d like. Just be wary that the less commitment you have, typically the less volume you get. There can also be a large range in what they offer for pay, so review and compare the different companies before onboarding with one.



Pros

  • Additional income that can add up to a substantial amount depending on how much you do it

  • Don’t have to learn a lot of new skills

  • Can be quick and easy to set up, depending on your situation

  • Can be flexible or quite regular depending on your preference

  • May offer the opportunity to work from home some days


Cons

  • Pay per encounter or reimbursement can be very low

  • May not provide any diversity or break from your full-time job to help with a work-life balance

  • Dealing with a third-party software provider can cause headaches with the technology

  • Licensing must be done in each state, with varying state-by-state licensing requirements, so it can be expensive and complicated if you want to expand past your currently licensed location

  • Distribution of cases will depend on the platform

  • Don’t always have the opportunity for follow-ups after telemedicine consults

  • Some of these positions request supervision of non-clinical physicians, which can expose you to liability related to somebody practicing under your license.

Learn more about Telemedicine.





Non-Medical Side Hustles for Physicians

Some physicians prefer that their side hustle provides a break from medicine, as this can be a great way to alleviate burnout. There are an endless number of non-medical side hustles for physicians, given that you could really do anything you want. While we cover some of the five most commonly seen ones on the communities below, you can explore more options on our main side gigs page and check out our side gigs blog for more unique ideas, such as franchising or starting a tea business.




Real Estate

Real estate is by far one of our most popular non-medical side gigs, as it is a great way for physicians to diversify their income and wealth and can use their existing assets to generate passive income. While there is an initial learning curve, after you've learned about it and put systems in place to vet good real estate investments that cashflow well, the earnings relative to effort ratio can be quite significant. As such, as a side gig, real estate has expedited many members' pathway to financial independence. It also comes along with so many other benefits such as tax advantaged income and estate planning benefits, and therefore it's understandable why so many physicians invest in real estate.


There are many different options within real estate investing, both passive and active. You can choose what works best for you depending on how much income you hope to generate, how much capital you have to start, and how hands-on you want to be.


Pros

  • A side gig that leverages your income streams and savings as a physician to create more money, which can be passive if you want it to be

  • Tax benefits, including for W-2 physicians, who don’t have the same options for tax advantages as 1099 physicians

  • Potential for appreciation and the ability to pass on the asset to future generations with a step up in basis

  • Cashflowing assets can not only help you reach financial independence faster, but have more income in any given year, which can help you cut back hours or say no to things that don't bring you joy


Cons

  • Unlike most side hustles featured, real estate is a “spend money to make money” model that requires a capital investment. Depending on what type of real estate you pick this can be quite significant.

  • Most real estate is leveraged with debt, which can add potential risk to your financial security if an investment goes wrong.

  • Some of the earning potential is in the form of appreciation, which you can't reliably plan on. There are several market forces beyond your control such as recessions and interest rates, so you really need to make sure investments are cash flowing even if you have to hold them for longer than anticipated.

  • Active real estate investing can open you up to more liability as a landlord (in addition to having to deal with tenants if you don't use a property management company)


Advisory Board Positions

Advisory boards offer a great opportunity to use your expertise to impact future innovation or the strategy of a company. Many of our physicians love crossing over into the business world and this is an exciting way to do it. As an advisor, you will be given insights into the plans companies are making and have a chance to provide feedback. While this may sound like consulting, being an advisor is a deeper relationship and often compensated with equity through restricted shares or stock options. It's also a great way to build your brand and further develop your reputation as a key opinion leader.


This side hustle is hard to stumble upon, as it usually requires that you are known as an expert in a space, are a key opinion leader, or an influencer. Make sure that you consider how an opportunity aligns with your brand and mission before taking one of these positions on.


Pros

  • Ability to have impact on a larger level

  • Offer a voice in the development and future of a company you believe in and value

  • These positions offer valuable networking opportunities inside not just healthcare, but as an entrepreneur

  • Allows you to take your clinical experience and use it to develop more business experience while allowing you to use a different part of your brain and learn new skillsets

  • Big potential for upside if the company does well


Cons

  • Your brand and reputation can become entwined with the company’s, which can lead to public scrutiny in certain circumstances

  • Can create conflicts of interest you need to be careful navigating

  • Can require a significant time commitment without guaranteed compensation - many startups fail



Influencer

A lot of us had many interests before medical school. One side gig we've seen a huge increase in interest in is content creation and being an influencer (as has the rest of the population). Think about how much influencer created content you encounter on a daily basis. This is now an enormous industry that is only getting bigger, and with it, the physician influencer side hustle has gained popularity. On our side gigs for pediatricians page, we went over some of the reasons why physicians are uniquely talented and in demand in this arena. TL;DR: as physicians, we spend years learning and training and have so much knowledge. With so much misinformation out there from everyone who owns a webcam and microphone, physicians are authority figures for topics people are constantly Googling when tackling medical issues in everyday life.


The influencer side hustle can look different for each physician, depending on your topic of interest and what medium(s) you prefer for your platform. We’ve seen several physicians become successful as:

  • YouTube personalities

  • TikTok physicians, for advice or humor

  • Health and wellness websites/blogs

  • Advocates

  • Product marketers

The power of the influencer side hustle is that, as your brand grows, so do your opportunities, expanding into speaking, coaching, and even advisory boards (just to name a few).


Pros

  • Lets you help patients in a different way and scale than 1-on-1 interactions

  • Can lead to offers for other side gigs

  • Opens the door for networking opportunities and collaborations

  • Expanding your audience can actually grown your clinical practice as welll

  • Helps develop several new useful skills for an entrepreneur (marketing, communications, networking, etc.)


Cons

  • Can be a highly competitive industry

  • One of the more time-consuming side hustles, as it will likely take time to build a following before you can monetize it

  • Requires caution with branding to ensure you maintain your professional image as a physician

  • Being in the spotlight may rise privacy concerns you’d rather avoid



Coaching

Coaching is an industry that has exploded amongst physicians in the last few years. As burnout has increased, we see more physicians seeking coaching as well as becoming coaches. Coaching can be fairly lucrative once you've built a brand, and we've seen several members of our community exit clinical medicine to grow their coaching businesses. Physicians are naturally great listeners and educators, so perhaps this is not surprising.


Coaching doesn't have to be limited to burnout coaching, although we hear about that often. Physicians can coach in many areas, including:

  • Health/wellness coaching

  • Nutrition

  • Career coaching

  • Leadership/entrepreneur coaching

  • Med school admissions coaching

  • Burnout coaching

  • Sleep training


While many people elect to get coaching certifications, technically there is no "official" pathway to becoming a coach. Coaching sessions can be done in person or virtually. We have a page to help you get started with your side gig that works well with a coaching side hustle and gives you tips on how to build your brand and find opportunities and clients.


Pros

  • Like clinical work, coaching offers a 1-on-1 interaction that can be highly rewarding as you see your clients grow and improve their lives thanks to your advice and mentoring

  • Allows you to take a more holistic approach to health and wellness, offering niches in several topics

  • Allows you to become a subject matter expert in a particular area of practice you’re passionate about

  • Allows you to become an entrepreneur without needing a significant capital investment (unless you choose to go through a more expensive certification program)


Cons

  • May take a considerable time upfront investment of both time and energy in order to build yourself as an authority figure and to start the word-of-mouth referral process with your first clients

  • Your primary objective is to make yourself obsolete by improving your client’s life to the point where they no longer need coaching, so you continually have to find new clients

  • Competition is high for coaching clients

  • As with working with patients, you may find this side hustle frustrating with unrealistic client goals and expectations of you being a “cure all” to their issues or with resistance to following your advice but expecting the same results


Investing

If you don’t need the extra cash today and are focusing on long-term goal, investing is a great low time and energy commitment that can pay off considerably in the long run.


Investing is a really broad catch all term, and you can invest in almost anything. While we tend to keep it simple and focus on investing in the stock market through a standard three-fund portfolio or real estate investing options such as REITs and syndications, there are so many other options. There are physicians on our communities who invest in gold, land, short term rentals, options trading, angel investing, franchises, venture capital, artwork, watches, handbags, and cryptocurrency, just to name a few more unique things.


While basic investing should be a part of every physician's financial plan, it can also be a fun side hustle for those who want to dig in deeper and take some risks for higher rewards. Financial independence is a goal for many of our community members, and this can get them there. It's just important to understand what you're investing in and not get sucked into FOMO.


Pros

  • One of the most 'passive' side hustles if you keep it simple

  • Can be exciting to learn about new asset classes and investment opportunities

  • Helps expedite your pathway to financial independence

  • Can offer tax advantages


Cons (we don't think there's many for standard investing, but for some of the more unique things...)

  • Requires discipline and education

  • Your assets may be tied up, limiting your ability to enjoy your wealth today

  • Since you should already be investing for retirement, it doesn’t offer the best income diversification

  • Can require large capital upfront, depending on the type of investment you want to make

  • There are no guaranteed returns, and there is always risk

  • Payoffs can come in spurts, so not an ideal side hustle for physicians who need reliable steady income

Learn more about investing throughout the site - start at our education page, full of things they didn't teach us in medical school.


Learn More About Each Physician Side Hustle

We know it’s a lot to take in and evaluate when considering which side hustle you want to start. If any in particular peak your interest, we have more information on each of the side gigs mentioned above. Explore them in detail and find available opportunities at:


Medical:


Non-Medical:

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