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Breakfast Burritos & Medical Surveys

What does a tortilla with eggs, potatoes, cheese (and hopefully some sausage and / or bacon) have to do with filling out medical surveys for money? I mean… other than the fact that a quick $10 or $20 will buy you a bag full of breakfast burritos.

That fact is not lost on today’s guest poster, a Californian physician known as Another $econd Opinion MD, but that’s not exactly what he’s talking about. What is the connection? Read on, my handheld breakfast loving friend!


Breakfast Burritos & Medical Surveys


It wasn’t a particularly bad call. I’ve had worse, but then again, I’ve had better.  As is the policy at our trauma center, one anesthesiologist has to be in-house at all times, and this night it was my turn.  Other than a late night hip fracture, early morning appendectomy and frequent announcements overhead (code sepsis, code STEMI, etc…) I managed a few hours of sleep.

My shift ended at 7 am so I was pleasantly surprised when my relief announced his arrival at 645 am.  It’s not my style to loiter post-call so I packed up, tidied the bed and left the call room.  A quick check of my emails revealed a new medical survey opportunity, $15 for 15 minutes of my time.  I made my way toward the doctor’s lounge, opened my laptop and clicked “Accept”.


Medical Survey


More Money To Invest


To most in our profession, $15 doesn’t seem like much, and to be honest, I agree.  But my philosophy is that any time I earn money outside of my paycheck, I invest 100%.  So the way I look at it, this $15 today will be worth exponentially more in 25 years when I see it again.

The math is simple: $15 compounded yearly at let’s say 8% interest for 25 years would be worth over $100 ($102.73 to be exact).  Granted inflation over that time will take away some of that buying potential from my new friend Benjamin, but it’s still a good return for 15 minutes of my time.


Keeping the Opportunity Door Open


Time permitting, and sometimes I do have a decent amount of downtime between cases, I participate in medical surveys as much as I can.  The first reason is stated above. The second reason is to keep them coming.

To me, if you frequently turn down invitations, both socially and professionally, you’re probably going to start being invited less.  Let’s be honest, if folks are frequently turning down invitations for your dinner parties, you’ll eventually stop inviting them.  You should also probably figure out how to throw better dinner parties, but that’s not the point.

I’m not sure if this pertains to the simple algorithm of sending/receiving electronic surveys, but I tell myself it does.


Have my Voice be Heard


I do realize that one company or product or drug will not be altered at all by my set of opinions.  But it is my opportunity to raise concerns, give praise, offer input and also see what’s in the pipeline of future medical advances.  After all, they’re paying someone to pay me to take these surveys, so the results can’t be entirely meaningless, right?


Didn’t Think I’d Qualify Anyway


For those of you who participate in medical surveys you know the drill.  There are 2-5 screening questions to see if you qualify to compete the survey, if you don’t qualify, you don’t get paid.  Often times it does feel like the screening questions (hospital size, is a certain drug on formulary, % of time you work at certain places) are the actual survey questions and these companies are just trying to get answers for free, but thus is the nature of this business.

Usually I “screen out” of half of these surveys anyway, so I thought this was just another false alarm.  Lucky for me, someone wanted to know my opinion on drug names, difficulty with pronunciation, ease of spelling, and whether the name fit the clinical profile of what the drug reportedly does.  So I told them: good, no, yes, and sure.



Solidify Strong Habits

Coming out of residency, I was scared to invest in the stock market — I knew nothing about it. 2008 was still in the recent past, and frankly, I wasn’t a big risk taker.

So how did I get started investing? Well, first I read a lot about it from very smart minds.  Then I took a baby step by investing my credit card rewards money.  The way I viewed it, if I lost it, it wasn’t money I ever had anyway.  But I didn’t lose it, it grew, stabilized, lost a little, but eventually grew more.

I quickly became more comfortable with investing, read more and started to develop habits in which I would invest a portion of my paycheck each month, beyond retirement investing, in addition to all of the extra money I was earning (credit card rewards, medical surveys, etc).

This was yet another opportunity to earn a little extra money for investments, an opportunity that I habitually take advantage of.



Breakfast Burritos


Can I go from talking about investing and money to talking about breakfast burritos with no transition?  I’m the author, so yeah. I can. [PoF: But it’s my site! I’ll make the call. OK… permission granted.]

Besides, the topic of breakfast burritos, or any awesome burrito in general needs no segue, ever.  But I’m not going to talk about my love for these delicious pieces of food art. It’s not about me or about those who ruin a good breakfast burrito with too much scrambled egg or soggy potatoes, it’s not about that.



I have three young kids at home and one of their only appreciable consolations to daddy missing story time and bedtime the night before is that I roll into the garage bearing gifts in the morning.  These gifts come wrapped in foil and have cooled to the appropriate kid-eating temperature by the time I arrive home.  They are packed with bacon, cheddar cheese, crunchy potatoes and a little fried egg.

The truth is our doctor’s lounge doesn’t get supplied with the mass quantities of breakfast items until 7 am and the kids get sad when they miss out on their post-call treat. This survey afforded me the chance to stall while my good buddy George prepared the lounge for breakfast.  I finished the survey just after 7 am with a new $15 to invest, packed up my things and grabbed a burrito (or two…don’t judge) for the short ride home.


Start receiving paid survey opportunities in your area of expertise to your email inbox by joining the All Global Circle community of Physicians and Healthcare Professionals.

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[PoF: I fill out these surveys from time to time. Although the opportunities don’t come up that often unless you seek them out, when you do qualify, they usually pay at least a dollar a minute. That may not be a great pay rate compared to a physician’s wage if you’re using your precious free time

$15 for 15 minutes may not be a great pay rate compared to a physician’s wage if you’re using your precious free time, but if you’re already at the hospital, killing time between patients or awaiting the results of a lab or scan, why not answer a few questions? You might just see the results of your clicks someday. That Bair Hugger logo? I helped choose it. True story.

And when you’re done there, continue on to Another $econd Opinion MD, where the good doctor talks about investing, financial independence, Dave Ramsey, and more!]


I've got my 2 acres of non-leveraged, crop-producing, cashflowing farmland via AcreTrader. Get yours.


Have you filled out medical (or non-medical surveys) for money? Has it been worth your time? Have any tips to share? Breakfast burrito recipes???


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38 thoughts on “Breakfast Burritos & Medical Surveys”

  1. Timothy – or others – what is the verdict on whether filling out surveys constitutes receiving money for a drug or device company? I would like to fill out surveys, but for other reasons, I would never want to have to say that I have any conflict of interest. Thank you for your advice.

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  3. I make about $10K to $30K/year doing medical online surveys. I created a business out of it and I have been doing them for 18 years. There are about 100 survey companies which randomly e-mail a survey. For 18 years the income has been relatively steady. I noticed some changes over the years: 1) online survey companies consolidate, which means if 4 survey companies consolidate into one you get 4 times as less surveys 2) Many online surveys have given up sending you a check. Instead they give you a visa gift card or give you an amazon gift card or pay into your pay pal account. 3) Screen outs have increased dramatically, but its important to do the surveys, anyway, because the online survey companies will stop sending you surveys if you don’t even try to do them.4) Online survey companies are paying less per hour than they used to. I will not do a survey for less than $100/hour. Luckily most will provide $350 to $500/hour. Many survey companies will ask you to come in person and they usually pay the best at least $500/hour (Schlesinger, focus point, JRA, are the most reliable)

  4. Hello Doctor,

    I’m from ZoomRx, a pharmaceutical market research company, and I’d love to have you join our panel of experts. We offer various earning opportunities through surveys, qual studies, referrals, quizzes, etc.

    If you wish to get in touch with us, you can send us an email at info@zoomrx.com. Also for more information, feel free to go through our website – http://www.zoomrx.com.

  5. I must be the only reader of this post that hasn’t filled out a survey or donated plasma. I never have downtime between cases, but I also don’t have nights of call . These days, I would pay someone $15 for 15 minutes of free time, easy….. I outsource every chance I get so that I can get a bit more than 6-8 hours of time per week not working and taking care of my 2 young kids. But that’s just me and what I buy with my FI.

  6. WCI, I appreciate your comment! I also appreciate you leaving more surveys for the rest of us!! I agree, the screen outs are the most frustrating part about these, although I have had some that did give me the $5 “thanks for trying to qualify,” so that does ease the pain.

    The nice part for me is that I usually forget about taking them, so am pleasantly surprised when checks show up in the mail 6 weeks later.

  7. I quit doing surveys due to the screenouts. Maybe if the screenout paid $5 and the survey itself paid $20, it would be fine. But every time I got screened out after 5-10 questions I felt like a chump. So now when I have extra time I don’t do surveys, I go read a post on POF or ASO and leave a comment. Pays about as well, is more fun, I might learn something, and I don’t feel like a chump.

  8. I am also an anesthesiologist and like to try to do them for a little extra fun $ if anything. But I find that a majority of the ones I’m invited to do I don’t qualify for… what are your go-to sites for ones you’ve actually completed? Any patterns?

    • Practice Balance, welcome to the party!

      In my opinion, M3 & E-rewards are the most likely to offer you a survey you’ll “screen in” for. One thing I’ve found is when I get the initial email inquiry, it’ll tell you which specialties they’re targeting. It seems that because we’re anesthesiologists, we’ll automatically get invitations for “Pain Physicians” surveys which are mostly looking for those that implant spinal cord stimulators. I’ve started to dismiss those when I see that, it saves a lot of unnecessary time.

      Thanks for your comment!

  9. As a graduate student, I donated blood to a research lab in exchange for gift certificates to a local pub. I literally exchanged part of my body for alcohol.

    I don’t get asked to do medical surveys very often, as I’m in a narrow sub-specialty, but I typically do them when invited. It’s a fairly mindless way to spend my lunch break, and I don’t mind extra cash!

    • I’m pretty sure they expected you to return after the pub-crawl to donate more blood…”happy blood” that is

  10. I've got my 2 acres of non-leveraged, crop-producing, cashflowing farmland via AcreTrader. Get yours.
  11. Thanks for the funny post on surveys! I started participating in surveys as a resident (brand institute drug name type), and that up when things got busy. I got back into it the past year and made 3000+ last year. While it isnt a lot compared to a regular md salary, it is great as fun money and i will open a solo 401k from my survey earnings this year.
    I find that the web/phone ones pay the best and since i live in a semi-rural location, it works well for me. I have heard of in person focus groups that pay 300-500 in big cities such as nyc, chicago and boston for a one hour survey, but with traveling time, etc, it’ll take at least 2 hours of your time.

    • Funny? This post was 100% serious, no funny stuff here. Just kidding, glad you liked it!

      My only issue with the Brand Institute surveys is that they’re very difficult to complete on your phone (for those that don’t know, they often ask you to listen to audio of a name, then ask you to spell it. At least on my phone, it opens a different page for each audio file, like 20 of them). That being said, I’ll take their surveys on occasion as well. It’s kind of cool to see an advertisement for a drug name you were asked questions about.

      Thanks for your comment!

  12. I complete online surveys, occasionally telephone interviews, at least once per month. I try to make sure that the online surveys pay at least 1.5 to 2 $ per minute. They can be very tedious and anything less than that is generally not worth it to me.

    Like PoF, I have noticed that the screen is often the survey, and they get you to do that for free. Annoying, and when I catch onto the fact that I am completing the survey for free, I quit. If the screen takes more than a minute, I generally stop.

    • Vagabond MD, thanks for your comment! The telephone surveys are golden and I’ve found pay ~$10/minute. I try to schedule those in the morning before the family gets up, usually just means I have to wake up 30 minutes earlier…an easy trade-off for those rates.

  13. I didn’t fill out surveys, but I donated plasma for extra money in college. The needle they use for donating plasma is HUGE!

    • As a nurse- I hated trying to draw blood on people who had a hx of plasma donations! It ruins their venous access at the very location I am trying to enter. Lots of scarring because of those large bore needles you mention. When I used to assist in my husband’s office those were my least favorite venipucture pts- I would take a football player sized fainter (and aren’t they all?) over a plasma donator. Just sayin’.

  14. Dr. Curious, thanks for your comment!

    I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but will soon. I’m definitely not advocating being a human guinea pig, though maybe I’ll change my tune after hearing his story. Or maybe not if his stories are as horrific as you say!

  15. PoF, thanks for allowing me to guest post!

    Very cool you had the opportunity to choose the Bair Hugger logo! I have no claim to fame from medical surveys yet…yet.

    While I don’t make the $4k+ like Dr Tyson, I usually bring in >$1,000 year from these surveys. I just did a 20 min phone interview last month that paid $300!

  16. I have been using quantia MD, which is an app that provides video PowerPoints by physicians for physicians. Often times you get q points to watch the videos and if you accumulate enough of them, you can get a $100 Amazon gift card. I’ve already gotten one and I’m working on the second. The videos are short and usually interesting. Jim Dahle has actually made a few videos on quantia MD.

    • Very interesting! I don’t think I’ve come across that site yet, I’ll have to look into it. Hopefully you don’t have to answer a quiz at the end to prove you’ve watched the whole thing!

  17. I enjoyed the surveys I took while in college from the psychology department. I knew a little about psychology back then but it was always fun to see what they were trying to test and discover. More recently, I did a focus group ($100 for 90 min) and that was fun but 90 minutes is too long of a period of time nowadays with kids and whatnot. $100 cash money is nice though!

    • I agree, 90 minutes of in-person time is definitely more of a commitment. Especially when you’re probably having to drive to/from these focus groups, time you’re not reimbursed for. That dilutes the final value even more.

      Though, as some others have pointed out, when you’re in college and just scraping by, $100 is very enticing!

    • I think I was in medical school when I was invited by a friend to sit in on a focus group for Michelob. I got $75 cash and a turkey sandwich lunch to help them decide to ditch the wine-cooler style bottle and come up with a slogan for Mich Golden Light.

      I’m sure there were multiple focus groups, but they went with the ideas we came up with. Standard tall bottles and a slogan that included “Golden.”

      Unfortunately, the contents of the bottle remained unchanged.


  18. Not that long ago we spent a decent amount of time doing surveys online for spare change. It wasn’t a real money maker but we did it while veging on the TV when we wouldn’t be doing anything otherwise productive. You have to compare these activities to what you’d otherwise be doing, not what you do at some other point in the day. Only you can then define if it’s worth it.

    • Thanks for your comment! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with valuing your time to do these surveys. I choose to do these during idle time while at work, not while I’m at my daughter’s soccer game or out to dinner with the family.

  19. In grad school I definitely participated in the food trials the food science grad students conducted. The worst one was trying out and discussing hot dog texture, appearance, mouth feel, etc. But I always walked away with a free meal and gift cards to places to eat on campus.

    • Mrs. Kiwi you just ruined my breakfast! Hopefully these were bbq’d hotdogs and not just warmed in the microwave. Perhaps chopped up into small pieces with some mac & cheese on the side?

      Ok, I’m good again, breakfast is continued over here.

  20. Back in the day, when I was broke and had only like $40/month food budget, I did surveys at the mall for free snacks ?.

    Now there’s opportunities to do online survey but they pay only a few cents for your time.

    But $15 for 15 minutes medical surveys sounds interesting. How does a non-doctor get access to them ? ?

    99to1percent recently posted…How we increased our annual income from $0 to $160K+ to $400,000+ https://99to1percent.com/increased-annual-income-0-400k/

    • I agree, unfortunately I’ve found that the non-medical survey opportunities don’t pay that well for your precious time, at least the online ones.

      The few companies I routinely do surveys for are available to most health care professionals (not just doctors) so if you’re a nurse, physician assistant, medical technician, etc, there are probably some opportunities for you.

  21. When I was in college I did a ton of surveys on mTurk during class. Those 25 cent ones added up and I made about $2000. I wish I kept the screenshot. $2000 over the course of a year isn’t squib change to a college kid (:

    • Wow, that sounds like a lot of surveys! Though $2,000 extra for a college kid is huge. Just think of all of the non-alcoholic beverages and non-pizza type food that would buy!


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