7 Best Side Gigs for Doctors to Grow Wealth
Side gigs or side hustles are a way to make extra money. Too many doctors need one and many more should get one. In the past 20 years, the financial lives of physicians have changed radically. The cost of becoming a doctor has skyrocketed. Getting out from under student loans on salary alone is a struggle. A side gig is also a hedge against changes in regulation or reimbursement that affect a doctor’s income.
Doctors are using their skills for more than clinical care. Taking on a side hustle is the new norm.
There are lots of reasons to take on a side hustle. Job security for physicians is shakier than it’s ever been. Corporatization and the profit-driven priorities of private equity investors are taking a toll.
Doctors are looking for more control over their lives (and futures.) A side gig is a step toward financial freedom. It can help subsidize retirement or pay down your student loans faster. Side hustles help you build a brand and establish your medical expertise. Or you can start a whole other line of business.
How to Choose?
The four criteria for picking a side gig:
- A passive or active income stream
- How much time can you spend
- How much money can you make
- What level of expertise is needed
An active income stream is labor-driven, where you get paid a fee, wage, or salary. A passive income stream involves little to no labor but offers recurring income. An example would be investing in stocks or buying real estate.
Both options can be lucrative. A second active income stream brings immediate cash flow. A passive income stream is normally considered a long-term investment.
Be realistic about how much time you have. The main assumption of a side gig is that you already have a main gig. Take a look at your current schedule. Don’t forget to factor in family, friends, exercise, and relaxation. Once it’s mapped out, you can see what’s left.
How much money do you want to make…and how quickly? Some side hustles are more profitable than others. There are passive income investments to help you build wealth with little effort. There are active income opportunities that require labor but also immediate payment.
Your clinical experience is a factor for any side gigs that involve medicine. A doctor who just completed his residency has a way to go to establish expertise. There are side gigs to help do just that. Your specialty comes into play when choosing a side hustle. Some areas of medicine have more public appeal while others interest physicians. Both can be profitable.
We’ve seen articles suggesting physicians work as Uber drivers or gig workers. A doctor would have to be pretty desperate to take that advice. An Uber driver makes about 36,000 a year, full time. Unless you have an urge to pick up strangers in your car and drive them around, we think you can do better.
7 Best Side Hustles for Doctors
These are some of the best side gigs for docs who want extra income.
1. Be an expert witness
Being an expert witness is a profitable side gig. Depending on your experience and your specialty, you can make between $350 – $500 an hour. Expert witnesses review medical records, IMEs and review supporting documents and depositions. They produce reports and case reviews. Sometimes they testify. If you put in 40 hours, one case can earn between $14,000 and $20,000.
There are organizations to align yourself with SEAK or American Medical Experts. SEAK experts charge hourly fees, AME charges by work product. You also list yourself on directories for a fee. If you’re interested, talk to a lawyer about how the process works from the attorney side.
Some cases will involve malpractice lawsuits brought against physicians or hospitals. Think twice about engaging in local cases. Being on the wrong side of things will lead to a drop in referrals and possibly privileges. Remember court documents are public documents.
Active Income | Time: Medium| Financial Reward: Good to Excellent
2. Telemedicine consults
Virtual consultations have become the norm. Telemedicine is a booming industry and talent is in high demand. Beyond money, there are lots of benefits. Work remotely, control your schedule, accept only the work you want to do. The company recruits the patients and does the billing. All the doctor does is the consult.
Part-time telemedicine doctors get paid by the consult or asynchronous chat session. The norm is $100 to $150 an hour for 15-minute video consults. The remote monitoring chats pay from $8 to $18, depending on the service provided. These sessions are very brief, sometimes as little as 5 minutes.
One way to pick up extra money is to leverage time zones. If you live on the west coast, get yourself licensed on the east coast. You can take late-night consults without a lot of strain – 2:00 am in New York is only 9:00 pm in Seattle. On the flipside – 8:00 am in Florida is 3:00 am in California. If you stay up late or get up early, you can pick up the slack for patients.
Active Income |Time: Low to Medium| Financial Reward: Medium to High
3. Create a Product Line
Dermatologists and plastic surgeons do cosmetic procedures should consider a skincare product line. The skincare industry is expected to reach $183.03 billion by 2025. Companies offer stock formulas for as little as $1000. Buy the formula and have it manufactured under your own label. You can also get CBD skin products under a private label.
Schwartz offers all-natural formulation under a private label and does contract manufacturing. They offer turnkey services, everything from developing the product to branding the packaging. If you’re not already on Instagram, we’d suggest you get an account before you launch. It’s a great place to showcase and sell beauty products.
Use your medical knowledge to create a new product that’s not on the market. Here’s a doctor who saw a need and created a wildly profitable solution. But it doesn’t have to be related to your career. Look at your hobbies or interests. What equipment do you wish you had? What would work better if it was designed differently? Turn your idea into a product.
Though you can investigate apps or games, understand they are challenging to promote. They are delivered by Google Play and the App store which offer millions of apps. But if you want to try, storyboard your idea and use a freelancing service like Fiverr.
Passive Income |Prep Time: Medium | Financial Reward: Medium to High
4. Invest in real estate
Real estate is an excellent way to build out an investment portfolio. You can purchase rental properties directly. If you have multiple locations, property management firms will handle the day-to-day.
Real estate is considered low risk and much less volatile than the stock market. As a result, the returns are stable. There are investment companies dedicated to real estate. The dividends vary between plans, so choose the one that best meets your goals. Properties are in different markets and location to minimize downturns. Investors have no role in operations.
Another option is a REIT – Real Estate Investment Trust. REITs are mutual funds that invest in income-producing real estate. Some are on the stock exchange, others are private. There are two types of funds – Equity and Mortgage. Equity funds collect rent and distribute the income to shareholders. Mortgage Funds make their money from interest from loans.
REITs produce consistent returns, often higher than other investments. Learn more here.
Passive Income | Time: Low | Financial Reward: Medium to High
5. Courses & Books
Education as a side gig is profitable and helpful. There are all kinds of opportunities from online training courses and books. Before you decide on your topic, decide on your audience. Is this a class for colleagues, residents, patients, or aspiring medical students? Your audience will where the course should be available and how much you can charge for it.
There is a new service called Lecturio that supports students trying to pass their medical school exams. This is an interesting opportunity for anyone looking at a side gig focused on education. They even provide video production.
Build and publish your online courses at Teachable. The platform has strong support and walks you through the process. Start by mapping out what you want to teach. Don’t be afraid to break your idea into a series of modules, especially if it’s complicated. Remember your audience when setting the price
Books for public consumption can be a profitable sideline. This book “Healthcare Handbook” costs $8.99 for an eBook. It provides an overview of the US healthcare system. It’s been reviewed 120 times, with 88% leaving 4 or 5 stars. We not trying to promote the book but consider this: 88% of 120 is 136. If just a 136 people bought the ebook, that’s a gross of $1,222.64.
The PreMed Playbook Guide to the Medical School Interview is a bestseller among in MCAT Test Guides. It’s one in a series of three books. The eBook is $8.49 with 223 reviews. 93% of the reviews gave the book 4 or 5 stars. That one book earned him $1,761.
What makes even more sense to combine a book with a course. Make sure you connect your work products to build your reputation and increase sales.
Passive Income | Time: Low to Medium | Financial Reward: Medium
6. Peer to Peer lending
Peer to peer lending is when a person applies for a loan directly from another person. It’s grown into a $2 billion industry in 2019, according to IBISWorld.
There are multiple models for investors, but the process is simple. The platform matches Investors to people who need loans. On some platforms, the investor chooses, on others the recipient of the loan. Some sites limit investors to people with annual incomes of $200,000 but many others are open to anyone. (Note: some states prohibit P2P lending. Check the laws in yours.)
The business models for the P2P lending platforms differ too. Most of these loan requests are for personal loans or small business loans. There is a risk in loaning money for sure. If the recipient defaults, you lose your investment.
To minimize that risk, platforms like Lending Club sell pieces of loans, called notes. In other words, you don’t need to fund the entire loan. All the noteholders share the risk. Here’s a success story of a 10% return – totally automated – on the Prosper platform.
The algorithms used to qualify loan recipients dig deeper than a FICO score. These loan programs provide options for good people with not so good credit. For some these loans are a lifeline. It may sound sentimental, but a one-to-one intervention is a very satisfying experience.
Passive Income | Time: Low | Financial Reward: High
7. Become a Coach
The idea of mentorship as a side gig gets lost in the bigger noise of investing. But coaching in the medical industry is an underserved niche market.
Like many professionals, doctors aren’t comfortable with therapy. With physician burnout at epidemic levels, coaching is a viable alternative. Coaches can use their own life experiences to support the goals of their clients. One doctor who went through a malpractice lawsuit became a coach to support others in the same situation.
Coaching is not therapy. It isn’t to resolve old wounds or past trauma. It is a sustainable relationship to navigate current circumstances. It is a practical plan of action that’s solution-based.
Wellness coaching is a growing industry for clients who need support in making and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Doctors with an interest in nutrition and exercise make excellent wellness coaches. Though certification is not legally required, there are courses for credentials.
When you start a coaching business, a 45-minute session is suggested. It’s enough time to get things done without information overload. Set up conversations or video chats once a week. This is a direct pay business – upfront. It’s suggested you set rate commensurate with your abilities and subject matter. We’d suggest no less than $300 a session but the minimum and maximum are your call.
Set clear boundaries between your medical practice and coaching business. Be clear with your clients that conversations are private, but there’s no assumption of confidentiality under the law. Setting that boundary helps to avoid drifting into therapeutic/clinical conversations.
Active Income | Time: Medium | Financial Reward: Medium
Whether you call it a side gig or a side hustle, there’s no security in relying on a salary anymore. Start making some extra money to pay off your loans or plan for early retirement. A side gig is the way to go.
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