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Side Gigs for Emergency Medicine Doctors

We see lots of requests for side gig ideas for emergency medicine physicians on our online physician communities. We continue our series of unique side gigs by specialty with side gigs for emergency medicine doctors. 

Emergency medicine physicians are in a unique position to engage in side gigs, as their schedules allow for greater flexibility in blocks of time off and more predictability than many other specialties that may have call responsibilities or regular office hours. Additionally, the broad skill set for acute care, breadth of expertise across specialties, and comfort with procedures allows for a nice range of medically adjacent side gigs.

We really had a fun time writing this one, as there were so many interesting options!

If you're not an emergency medicine physician and want to learn more about side gigs for your specific specialty, check out our side gigs page, which lists side gig ideas for different specialties. If your specialty hasn’t been featured yet, follow the series on Instagram, where we roll out new specialties weekly.

Unique side gigs for emergency medicine doctors

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Wound Care, Nursing Home Work, or Community Palliative Care

Unique Side Gigs for Emergency Medicine Doctors

We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed writing it, because the breadth of unique options was pretty astounding!

Medical Director for Ambulance/EMS

As physicians who interact regularly with EMS services and who have a vested interest in optimizing these services, emergency medicine physicians are asked to become involved in leadership roles with EMS organizations. The emergency medicine physician plays a critical role in ensuring that operations of these companies are compliant with best practices and evidence based medicine that optimizes the outcomes of patients in need of emergency medical services. Responsibilities could include creating and regularly modifying protocols for communications and dispatch training, ensuring that those hired are adequately trained and credentialed, as well as assessing potential areas of concern that may arise related to the care provided by an EMS professional. They are also often proactively involved in educational initiatives and quality improvement initiatives. For physicians that enjoy getting involved in policy, these positions may also offer the opportunity to get involved in local and national regulatory efforts related to public safety and legislation, as well as funding and reimbursement issues.

If you choose to pursue this, you should look into what insurance policies you will need. While your medical malpractice may cover medically related activities, often director roles will require D&O (director and omissions) or E&O (errors and omissions) policies, which hopefully will be provided by the company.

Note that these positions are often offered to physicians who have experience, so this is usually a job that you may fall into 7-10 years out of training. Additionally, these positions can be hard to come across, as many physicians that get them tend to enjoy and hold on to them for years.

What it pays: For physicians who live in a large city, this could be the equivalent of a full time job, and actually pays very well. While you likely wouldn’t make as much as you could clinically, pay for these full time positions can range between $150,000 to $300,000 depending on how busy and involved the role is. In smaller cities or less busy EMS services, the roles are more likely to be part time and pay accordingly.

Celebrity Physician and Concierge Services

There are several options for concierge type care. From everything from IV hydration clinics to being a private doctor for a celebrity or running a cash pay suture service for those that want to avoid the ER, many physicians have gotten creative with their services. We’ve all heard of celebrities with personal physicians that they travel with on vacation or take on tour with them, or who just value their privacy and don’t want to be seen getting their care at a clinic or a hospital. 

Emergency medicine physicians also tend to be pretty adept at procedures, so some EM docs will choose to get certified in aesthetics services and provide services such as Botox and fillers. 

Obviously, having appropriate malpractice is key, and making sure you stay within the standard of care is important. We all know that guidelines exist for a reason, so one of the challenges of being in this space is the fine line between trying to make medical care as convenient and personalized for your clients while still insisting that protocols are followed so that things aren’t missed.

Also make sure that you’re comfortable with higher maintenance personalities, as this is one where the requests may get a little out of the norm, and you may find your phone ringing at 2 am for something that could easily be dealt with in the morning.

To do this one, you’ll likely need to do a little brand building, as many physicians are approached for these positions because of their reputation. To build out relevant cash pay practices, you’ll likely need to be involved in social media.

What it pays: Skies the limit here. When your clients value privacy and 24/7 convenience, they’re usually willing to pay for it, and cash pay services can be very lucrative when scaled.

Occupational Medicine Doctor

You could be a physician that works for a company that provides medical care to large corporations. Many large companies have physicians on staff as corporate perks, who can essentially take care of most medical problems for employees without having to run to urgent cares or the emergency room. You could also be doing this for healthcare centers, the Department of Defense, or on college campuses for faculty and staff. There are many options and each job will look a little different, but the skillset of an emergency room physician may be very helpful given the flexibility and breadth of knowledge.

In its most classic sense, occupational medicine is related to injuries or illnesses that happen on the job or related to the job, but it can also be related to preventative care or screenings, or become much more concierge type. For example, many jobs require health screenings prior to employment or at regular intervals. If within a healthcare environment, there may be vaccine administration, tetanus shots, running titers, dealing with needlestick injuries, TB screenings, and more. Large corporations may even offer these perks for routine care or the care of employees’ families.

If there are a lot of workplace issues involved, occupational health physicians have to stay up to date with guidelines and know government regulations. 

What it pays: This will depend on the employer. If you’re at a large corporation you may get paid very well relative to what other 9 to 5 physicians make, whereas government related jobs are probably not as well paid as what you get in the private sector.

Travel Doctor

There are several really interesting subsets here. Tour Physicians: These are physicians hired by luxury travel companies purely for the convenience of people on the tours. This could be a very luxurious and not at all dangerous situation like a fancy concierge tour to Europe where everyone goes in a private jet and tours throughout Europe, or something far more exotic to a part of the world where medical care isn’t readily available or for high risk activities like heli-skiing, mountain climbing, or remote scuba diving. You could even be the physician for expeditions to places like the Himalayas or Antartica. 

There are actually specific training programs or certifications for Wilderness Medicine that you may want to look into if you elect to do this type of work, with specific courses tailored even further to specific niches. As you can imagine, you may need survival skills, leadership skills, search and rescue skills, and more. You may also need to just learn basic camping and hiking skills, and work on your endurance!

Mission work or charitable work:There is a need for medical care in many remote parts of the word, including in some pretty unique settings such as war zones, disaster relief, and humanitarian missions. You could work for an organization such as Doctors without Borders or just join on to a mission for a few weeks.

Cruise ship medicine:This is an area where you can actually really put your ER skills to work, as well as potentially mix it with travel. Learn more about cruise ship medicine.

Concert or Events Doctor

This is one that can be really fun and unique! Many concerts or events require physicians on site to assist either participants such as athletes or spectators. Some tangible examples are helping out ringside at a boxing match or helping at a medical tent at a concert or marathon, or being on standby at a car racing track or on the sidelines of a major professional sporting event. These physicians are on site to help with acute situations that range in severity from things like giving sutures or starting an IV, to treating an allergic reaction or more severe things like heatstroke or treating complications of drug use.  An interesting subset is remote events where medical care may not be easily accessible. Think about events like the Burning Man festival, where there are tens of thousands of people enjoying themselves, and where all sorts of emergencies can arise. At some events there are even critical care beds that have ventilators or large tanks with ice water in case of hyperthermia.

Your experience as an emergency medicine physician is easy to leverage here - in busy emergency rooms, you are used to triaging patients and being quick on your feet with whatever resources you have. The ability to help out with almost any medical issues that arise (or at least stabilize the patient long enough to get them into an ambulance if necessary) is critical to keeping these venues safe experiences for participants. Large events may even have you riding around in EMS vans or on bicycles with first aid kits and AEDs.

A tangential but similar job is working on the TV set or movie set of a show where there are stunts being performed or on reality TV shows.

You can find these positions either through word of mouth or through special event staffing agencies that are set up for this purpose. 

What it pays: Pay can vary widely, but most physicians have said pay is similar to what they get in the emergency room, plus they may get to see some great events. Many years ago, one member of our community posted about how they were an events doctor decades ago, and the lead singer of a VERY popular band came out to warm up, told all the physicians they’d be busy during the concert, and played them a private mini-set in gratitude. Other physicians have gotten to view major sporting events from the sidelines. Amazing! Learn more about event medicine side gigs for physicians.

Expert Witness

Expert witness work is a popular side gig for many physicians, because it doesn’t require a new skill set, and because it pays very well. Be careful though - if you are going to do a lot of this, you’ll have to get comfortable with testifying for both the defense and the plaintiff. The nice thing as an emergency medicine physician is that you’ll have the flexibility needed for days off for depositions or testimony, should the need arise.

Guest Lecturer for Healthcare Professional Schools

Many health care professional schools need to teach their trainees how to do procedures, provide life support, and other essential knowledge about anatomy and physiology. They often employ physicians to lecture in classes or run workshops such as suture clinics. EMT and paramedic schools often need physicians to help teach them about acute conditions and treatment algorithms.

What it pays: While it likely doesn’t pay as well as an emergency room shift, these are generally low stress positions that can be very rewarding personally and professionally. Many physicians love to teach, and as an added benefit, many EM docs will find themselves interfacing with these other healthcare professionals and have a vested interest in them being well trained.

Urgent Care / Moonlighting

This is an obvious one, as your skills as an emergency room physician are readily transferable to these environments. It’s an easy way to make extra cash on your days off.

What it pays: If you’re able to provide these services in an area of need, can be particularly lucrative. While urgent care may pay less than an ER shift, it’s probably less stressful in terms of acuity. If you’re filling in by taking extra shifts at your emergency room or that of others in the area, you should be able to make at least as much as you would on a normal shift with your employer.

First-Aid Training

Many ER physicians will serve as trainers for First Aid courses. This can be on a volunteer basis or paid depending on the organization through which it is being done.


It seems as though everyday there are more telemedicine services popping up for urgent care sorts of needs. You’re obviously very skilled at providing these services anyways, so if you feel comfortable doing some of these services virtually (and sending them in to the emergency room when appropriate), you may enjoy this easy way to make some extra cash. Commitment can vary from regularly scheduled shifts to just logging on and taking what’s available.

What it pays: Generally this will not pay as well as your job as an EM doctor. While pay varies per company, most of our physicians tend to find that these jobs pay between $15-30 a visit for urgent care type services. It will also vary based on how much of a commitment you make to the company, as those just logging on occasionally will tend to make less than those regularly assigned to a schedule.

Non-Clinical Side Gigs

There’s no reason why your side gig has to be medical. As a physician that can have a lot of time off, you could dip your toes into all sorts of other nonmedical side gigs. See some examples below, or browse our general side gigs for doctors page.

Learn more:

Wound Care, Nursing Home Work, or Community Palliative Care

This is another way to put your procedural and EM skills to work on days off. You’ve probably seen your share of these types of issues, and there are plenty of companies looking for physicians who can work on a flexible schedule to try and prevent patients from going to the emergency room.

Medical Surveys and Consulting

As always, medical surveys and consulting can be flexible ways for emergency room physicians to make some extra money without the commitments that come with other side gigs. While emergency medicine doctors likely won't get as many surveys as some other physicians, signing up for multiple companies can result in some occasional bonus money. You can do them on your days off, or if you somehow miraculously have some down time on a night shift (we wish).

Learn more:

Other Side Gigs Ideas for Emergency Medicine Doctors

If none of the unique side gig ideas above spark your interest, don’t get discouraged. Drop a line in our Facebooks groups to connect with our brilliant hive mind to ask fellow EM doctors what they’ve enjoyed.

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