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Side Gigs for Surgeons

Over the years, we’ve seen countless requests for side hustle ideas for physicians in specific specialties in our Physician Side Gigs Facebook group. We continue our series of unique side gigs by specialty with side gigs for surgeons.


Surgeons lead pretty busy lives at baseline, so you may be surprised to learn that so many are interested in side gigs. The good news for these surgeons is that there are so many who need them for side gigs as well. Whether through our consulting database or for nonclinical work, we get lots of requests to be connected with surgeons who are looking for alternative income streams. Even if they don’t have much time, many surgeons enjoy some of the side hustles that are more passive in nature, like investing in an ASC or real estate. In the list below, we cover many side gig options for surgeons.


If you aren’t a surgeon and want to learn more about side gigs for your specific specialty, check out our page of side gig ideas for different specialties. If your specialty hasn’t been featured yet, follow the series on Instagram, where we’ve featured more specialties.


Medical and non-medical unique side gigs for surgeons


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Side Gigs for Surgeons


Investing in An Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) 


This is an obvious source of additional income for surgeons that are looking to increase the number of revenue streams that they have. Not only is it relatively passive depending on the degree that you have to get involved in management, it’s a nice way to tie your day job in with an additional source of income. Being offered ownership in many ASCs is contingent upon also bringing volume to that ASC, and this can be an attractive way to get a piece of the non-professional fees that go along with the surgical procedures you’d be performing anyways.


A word of caution - many groups, including private equity, are very interested in this space. It’s important to look at the books of a potential ASC investment and make sure that it really is a good investment. This will include reviewing overhead, utilization rates, and more.




Locums or moonlighting


If you do happen to have the time as a full time surgeon, or if you work part time, you can almost certainly find opportunities to do locums or moonlight locally as a surgeon. Call coverage is very difficult in many surgical specialties and this means that many private practice groups as well as hospital systems have various short term and long term needs. Pay for these positions will vary greatly depending on what type of surgeon you are, where the location of the work is, and what the volume and complexity you are expected to handle is. The more flexible you are and the more you’re willing to do, the more lucrative these positions can be. Make sure you search our locums compensation and information database to see examples of what surgeons are getting paid and where so that you have an idea of what to expect.


Learn more about locum tenens for physicians.



Consulting or startup advising as a surgeon


There are so many consulting opportunities for surgeons out there. From information about increasing efficiency within ORs, giving feedback on medical devices in development or already in existence, protocol development, and more, we have no shortage of companies contracting us through our consulting databases looking to speak with surgeons about their experiences and opportunities for improvement. If you’re looking to get your own organic outreach from companies who may need your services, put some time into branding yourself by posting your thoughts on places like LinkedIn. 


In this age of medical startups and digital health, there are also lots of companies seeking physicians in a more active consulting role, such as startup advising. This can be a really exciting opportunity to get involved with healthcare innovation, and is often intriguing to those who are motivated to be a part of change.


Learn more about:



Medical surveys


If you crave more flexibility than you might have with consulting roles that require that you set aside set times, or want to make a little bit of extra money in between cases during that frustrating downtime while you’re waiting for the OR to turn around (we feel this), medical surveys may be the right side gig for you. There is no commitment, and you just respond to survey invitations when available. Be aware that you may get screened out and that these virtual and flexible options that usually mostly involve clicking buttons or short answers are not likely to pay you at your hourly consulting rate, but amongst physicians, surgeons are amongst the highest paid in medical survey opportunities. Many companies that do market research surveys are actively seeking surgeons.




Medical device development


Maybe instead of just consulting on an idea for a medical device or giving feedback on a medical device, you actually have an idea of your own to create something that would make surgery or other procedures easier for yourself or your patients. You know this space better than anyone as you live and breathe the use of these devices. If you have some interest in the business side of things, an engineering background, or some other relevant experience, skillset, or interest, there’s no reason it can’t be you that actually creates the prototype for a new medical device. Just keep in mind that this is not a sure pathway to success, and for many, turns out to be a labor of love. Taking a product to market involves luck on multiple levels, from coming up with a product idea that’s in demand to clinical trails and patents, and then actually marketing it and getting hospitals and other organizations to purchase it. There are several different pathways you could take, though, and it doesn’t have to be you that does every piece of the process.


Learn more about medical device development.



Training others on device uses or techniques and speaking opportunities


Maybe you have a passion for teaching. Medical device companies are always looking for physicians to either promote or teach/train others on how to use devices once they go to market. If you’re a plastic surgeon, you may enjoy a side gig teaching injectables or about the differences between different products. You could even have other surgeons come to your practice to observe you and learn how to do things. These options generally reimburse well.


Many pharmaceutical and medical device companies also offer speaking engagements on their behalf, which can be very well paid.


Learn more



Expert witness work


Unfortunately, there’s a lot of litigation in the surgical world as there will always be cases where things go wrong, often at no fault of the physician. If you’re interested in getting involved in expert witness work, it can be extremely lucrative, with many surgeons getting paid over $500/hour (and sometimes even over $1000 per hour, per our data in our expert witness database!).The other nice thing about expert witness work is that it doesn’t require acquiring additional expertise - you already have it! 


Many surgeons get involved in this work because they are approached by a lawyer who finds them in relation to a particular case. If they like it, they may let the lawyer that’s involved know they’re interested in more or start networking more widely. 


Be warned that 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, as the opposing side will be quick to discredit you as a witness if you only ever defend physicians. This work isn’t for everyone, but if enjoy it, you can scale this business up quite a bit just by branding and networking. And of course, join our expert witness database (members only).



Join our free expert witness opportunities database for notification on when relevant side gigs exist (you must be a member of our Physician Side Gigs community to join–learn more about our free, physician Facebook groups).



Utilization management or chart review work


It may surprise you to know that lots of utilization management companies are looking for surgeons. Then again, if you’re a surgeon that’s used to filling out a lot of prior authorizations and having to do peer to peers, you’re likely not surprised at all. Given how expensive surgery and all of the things associated with pre-op and post-op care are, there is a lot of incentive on the part of payers and hospital systems to ensure that resources are being allocated appropriately. Therefore, if you decide to pick up some utilization management work either on the side or eventually as a full time gig, you will likely find the job market receptive to you. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to pay close to what surgeons typically make on an hourly basis, so be aware of that.




Being an influencer or content creator


We all know people are fascinated by surgery (think about the number of medical dramas that focus on surgeons!). Additionally, people have so many questions about surgery and often go to social media or the internet to find their answers. There are lots of surgeons who have tens of thousands to even millions of followers. If you’re someone who enjoys writing, dancing, or otherwise creating content, this can be a great pathway to brand partnerships, speaking opportunities, book deals, course creation, and more. Is there a topic you’re passionate about? Is there a message you want to spread? This can be such a wonderful creative outlet to inspire and educate for those personalities that enjoy it.


Learn more about:



Clinical research


In a field that’s constantly evolving with new technology as well as having procedures that are done in conjunction with oncology, there is lots of opportunity to be involved in clinical research and trials. While major academic medical centers and pharmaceutical companies conduct a lot of clinical research, you don’t have to be employed by these entities if you’re interested in this side hustle. Opportunities exist to bring clinical research trials into your community, which makes this a great alternative-income generating side gig for physicians running a medical practice. It’s  also a great way to  advance medical innovation while offering new treatment options.




Second opinion services


Surgery is a big deal for patients, and many times surgery is in the context of other stressful medical conditions. These procedures can require extensive recovery or may be one of a host of therapeutic options offered to a patient in the context of a medical diagnosis such as cancer. Therefore, patients will often seek a second (and sometimes third and even fourth) opinion before deciding on their course of action. With techniques and research continually evolving, even non-surgical physicians are always looking to keep up on the latest options.


By offering second opinion services, you can provide another data point for patients to make an informed decision after reviewing their patient records and their treatment options. You may help the patient feel more confident in their current doctor’s recommendations, or may be able to offer new insights to help provide alternatives that could be better for their situation. 


Depending on your area of expertise, you could provide these services virtually or in person. The potential to do this virtually and after hours adds increased flexibility versus some of the other medical side hustles we’ve recommended above. This can also expand the reach of patients you’re able to help versus your clinical job. Depending on the patient’s specific situation, time sensitivity may come into play, so keep that in mind when developing your schedule for this side gig.



Real estate and other investment options such as venture capital or angel investing


As physicians in surgical fields tend to be amongst the best compensated physicians from a salary and compensation standpoint, many surgeons find that they have excess income to invest aside from their retirement accounts. This offers a nice opportunity to allow your saved money to make more money for you. 


One thing that many physicians, surgeons or not, like investing in is real estate. This can be done passively via real estate syndications, or more actively via short term rentals, mid term rentals, or long term rentals. There are many advantages to investing in real estate as a physician, including tax advantages you wouldn’t otherwise have access to, like the ability to write off depreciation and other expenses against your physician income if you or your significant other qualifies for real estate professional status.


Additionally, one benefit to having excess money is being able to take a little more risk for the chance of larger returns. We’ve seen many surgeons get involved in venture capital or angel investing, where you can invest in up and coming companies or ideas, and if they make it big, often make many multiples of the amount originally invested. Remember though, you must be prepared to lose it all, as many (read, most) startups fail.




Additional resources for surgeons


While we’ve outlined above some common side gig ideas for internal medicine doctors, there’s always room for creativity. If there’s something you’re passionate about and good at, look for ways to monetize it!


Dive deeper into some of the side gigs featured above, including:



You can also explore the following to learn more about our:


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