The Art of the Side Hustle: Complementing Your Career with Entrepreneurship

Today’s post is all about the “side hustle.” I prefer the term “side gig” as it sounds a little more laid back, but to be honest, many of us are hustling to do the work involved in both our primary and secondary jobs.

Whatever you want to call it, people from all walks of life are pursuing their own entrepreneurial spirit with a little work on the side, and physicians are no exception.

I never imagined I’d be among them, but here I am working part-time at two different jobs. I figured I’d wait until this physician career was over with before thinking about doing anything else to supplement my income, but I saw an opportunity and tried my hand.

I’m grateful I did. What follows is a guest post from Trust Point. We have no financial relationship.


 

The Art of the Side Hustle: How to Complement Your Career with Entrepreneurship

 

The median annual wage for physicians was over $250,000 in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Doctors who practice a specialty, such as anesthesiology or general surgery, had median earnings of more than $425,000. Those high salaries might make it seem as if doctors are content to work their jobs then retire at 65 with a hefty pension and savings.

But, surprisingly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Physicians, including younger doctors who are graduating medical school with a ton of debt, as well as several years of residency and fellowship training ahead of them, are looking for ways to supplement their income and achieve financial independence even more quickly.

Enter the side hustle – a method of earning extra income on the side while doing something you enjoy. While some side hustles involve driving for rideshare companies or doing quick and simple tasks, other side hustles are more entrepreneurial. Whatever your interest, there’s a chance you can turn it into a side project and earn some extra cash to help with your financial planning for the future.

Why Physicians Should Have Side Hustles

 

Since medical doctors are one of the highest-paid professions in the United States, you might be wondering why you should even take the time to consider a side hustle. Well, here are three words for you: “medical school debt”. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median amount of debt among 2016 med school graduates was an exorbitant $180,000. Nearly three-quarters of all medical students graduated with at least some debt. That’s an amount that simply can’t be ignored.

set for lifeWhile medical school debt is an obvious roadblock standing in the way of today’s new physicians that aspire to financial freedom, it’s not the only reason professionals in this industry are getting a side hustle or exploring exciting entrepreneurial opportunities.

Another reason is pure curiosity. Odds are, a student applies and attends medical school to because they are curious about the way the human body works and want to learn more about medical practices. However, while becoming a doctor may be the student’s primary passion and interest, it’s unlikely that it’s the only thing they are passionate about. Starting a side hustle gives them the opportunity to tap into other things that pique their interest and allow them to make a bit of extra money on the side.

One more reason why so many medical students and professionals are starting a side hustle is that it provides an additional layer of financial security. There’s no doubt that being a doctor is one of the most secure jobs out there. People will always get sick and always need medical attention and care. But, especially in the early stages of a doctor’s career, individuals can be saddled with mountains of debt while not yet bringing in a senior-level salary. With an extra bit of cash flow, the stress of not having enough money is lowered.

But, healthcare is subject to laws and the rules of the market, even more so than the majority of other industries. Hospitals are always looking for ways to cut down on expenses, and in some cases, that means letting perfectly good doctors go. Medical institutions get bought on a regular basis, which can mean massive layoffs, as well. Whether you’re a senior-level surgeon or an entry-level physician, if you happen to find yourself without a day job, you always have a solid option to fall back on with an income-producing side hustle.

 

Crushing Barley

crushing malted barley could be your side hustle

 

Side Hustle Options for Physicians

 

The great thing about physician entrepreneurship is this: there are a lot of opportunities out there to grow a business and support your annual salary. Physicians tend to be intelligent individuals, generally with a wide variety of interests. As a doctor, there is most likely a  money-making side project out there than you can take full advantage of. As a jumping off point, here are a few ideas that you could invest some time exploring:

 

  • Start a blog. It can be a medical blog where you provide expert insight into a niche topic or a blog that’s about something that you’re deeply interested in, even if it has nothing to do with the medical profession. If you’re able to produce compelling content, there are many companies out there that may offer revenue-generating sponsorship opportunities. You could also sign up as an affiliate with websites such as Amazon to monetize the blog in various ways.

 

  • Teach on the side. If you’re passionate about helping others, teaching could be a great option for a side hustle. Whether through tutoring struggling medical students or guest lecturing for a class at your local medical school, there are plenty of teaching opportunities for medical professionals. However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to teaching only medicine. If you’re interested or experienced in another topic that interests you and feel like you could teach the subject, try pitching the idea to a local community college or after-school center and see if they’ll offer you a paid position.

 

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  • Start an after-hours private practice. People all around the country need medical care around the clock, but going to the emergency room when the doctor’s office is closed is both expensive and time-consuming for the everyday patient. You can fill in that gap by opening an after-hours private practice to serve patients when other offices are closed.

 

  • Be a medical writer. Using your unique knowledge of medical practices, you could easily make some cash by snagging some freelance medical writing gigs. Medical writers often focus on either scientific medical writing, which includes medical studies, drug trials and regulatory documents, or marketing medical writing, which may include brochures, pamphlets, news releases and blogging.

 

  • Make YouTube videos. People are always Googling medical symptoms, causes of sickness, specific remedies and much more. You can become the doctor who answers all of these questions to put those hypochondriac thoughts at ease. Simply record yourself answering common medical questions via your laptop or phone camera, do some quick editing if you wish, and upload it to YouTube – you’d be surprised how often common medical searches are performed throughout the world on search engines.

 

 

Set Up Your Side Hustle

 

Getting your side hustle up and running can be as simple as buying a website domain and putting a blog together, or slightly more challenging if you need to hunt for business or clients. It all simply comes down to the effort you’re willing to put into your side hustle.

That said, it’s important not to expect too much at the beginning. For example, if you start an after-hours private practice, you might not have lines of patients out of the door right away. Your blog might not have thousands of visitors every day from its launch date. However, if you’re diligent and stick with it, you can develop a lucrative side hustle if you maintain your entrepreneurial spirit.

The important thing is to get the word out. If your side hustle is primarily online, find others working in a similar niche to connect with. You might ask about guest posting, for example, or ask a more established physician vlogger to share a link to your videos in an effort to drive more traffic to your content.

Will your side hustle eventually replace your full-time physician job? That’s really up to you. You might find that you love physician entrepreneurship more than you love working at a hospital. Or you might decide to keep your side hustle as exactly that – something you enjoy on the side.

 

[PoF: The list above is just the beginning. There’s really no limit to the options you have. It does make some sense to leverage your expertise and incorporate what you’ve learned in your primary job and apply it to your side hustle.

On the other hand, perhaps the whole point of the side gig is to create an escape from a career that no longer brings you joy. In that case, you may want to do something that’s the polar opposite or completely unrelated. Real estate, retail, restaurants, wineries (you thought I was going to say breweries, didn’t you? …OK, I’ll say it), breweries, travel agencies, you name it… A wonderful thing about a high income is you can more easily find the seed money for many of these small business ideas.

To learn more about what other doctors are doing as their side gig, join the thousands of physicians sharing tips and stories in Nisha Mehta MD‘s Physician Side Gigs Facebook group. It’s for medical doctors only, and if you’re already a member of Physicians on FIRE, that will make her job of verifying your physician status much easier.]

 


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Do you have a side hustle? If not, what would you most like to do as a side hustle?

 

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17 comments

  • I’ve found my side hustles to be really important for my sanity. They include my website (The Physician Philosopher), making a medical invention, writing a book, and medical expert witness work.

    As they say, variety is the spice of life. Not only do I enjoy variety in my main hustle, but I enjoy feeding my entrepreneurial spirit on the side with variety, too. If you can generate a stable side hustle income, then that may allow you to reach FI faster and with more of a buffer. You will not have to rely strictly on a 3-4% safe withdrawal rate. You might be able to get by on 2.5-3% and insure even more financial success from your nest egg that you have built.

    It’s important for physicians to have a life outside of the hospital and clinics that they work in. This is one of the many ways to do that.

    Keep hustlin’

    TPP

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  • I’m not a doctor but have found my two side hustles rewarding, mostly because they’re fun and I love seeing that people will actually pay me for things I create. There’s definitely an ego boost in there 🙂

  • For me starting a blog was not more about having a side Hustle but more as a creative outlet.

    If it turns out to be a profitable venture that is just icing on the cake. You are absolutely right that you can’t expect it to take off in the initial stages and I have put far more hours in it than I originally anticipated (if I look at revenue I am likely at the $2/hr mark). But it is fun and it has renewed the passion and spark in my eyes that was slowly disappearing from my primary gig.

    The side hustles (if you call it that) that have had great return is building a mini passive real estate empire. Hopefully can build an even higher income floor to support me when I do hang up the stethoscope

  • I agree that most doctors have other facets to their personalities that are often left by the wayside during medical school and training. Side gigs are a great way to reclaim those pieces (and possibly even make some money doing it!)

    I always admire physicians with side gigs, and love to see those other parts of their personalities and skill sets being used.

  • Dentist In Debt

    According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median amount of debt among 2016 med school graduates was an exorbitant $180,000.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when I see $180k of student loans and think that’s a very small number. That didn’t even cover my first two years of dental school.

    I love the idea of a side gig that can generate some passive income. As others have said, can help with maintaining sanity and keeping joy in life. The hard part will be figuring out how to make that happen. Thanks for the inspiration and some ideas to look into.

    • Dental school is becoming a pretty rough return on investment, especially with corporate entities offering low salaries once you get out. Best to be in business for yourself as a dentist I would think — that’s what my father, Godfather, and grandfather did.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

  • I think it is important for doctors to have a side hustle/gig, even if it isn’t as well-paying as their day job. It keeps life interesting for us doctors who are generally very well-rounded and intellectually curious people. If it makes some (or a lot) of money, then it’s all gravy and it gives us more power and impact to do something great (such as philanthropy) with our extra money.

    Personally, I enjoy all of my side hustles. These include my website blog, my instagram blog (I’m a small time plant-based diet social media influencer), my make-shift travel agency, and points/miles consulting. It gives me an identity outside of medicine and I love it.

    • Do you have posts on these side hustles? I’d be interested in hearing more about the travel agency in particular.

      I’m excited to be making some money with this venture — I pledged to donate half my profits and I paid it forward, but I hope to get to the point eventually where I’ve actually earned twice as much as I’ve donated since starting this site. Then I can make another six-figure deposit to our DAF.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

      • No posts on these side hustles yet (unless you count this one). Mostly because they are not super profitable. The “makeshift travel agency/consulting” is mostly helping friends, family, and colleagues plan personalized travel itineraries for their dream vacations by using points and miles. Makeshift being the operative word. As compensation for my service, I have earned a few hundred dollars worth of points through them using my credit card referral links. It can consume a lot of time, and I haven’t had the time to commit to it lately. If I do retire early from medicine, I have considered becoming a Virtuoso travel advisor though. I have traveled fairly extensively, I like planning itineraries, and I have a decent network of potential clients, but I wouldn’t be able to do it while maintaining a full time career in medicine. Here’s a good resource site on the steps one can take to become a luxury travel advisor (especially with Virtuoso since they are the most respected consortium for luxury travel).

        Your charitable mission in pledging to donate half of your profits is very noble and the amount of hard work you put into it is inspiring. You serve as a great role model of philanthropy for us physicians! 🙂

  • Catherine T

    Hubby (the physician in the family) took pictures all over the Alps, during our recent vacation. Thinking of how to turn that into a side hustle. We see people at craft shows and on Etsy selling their pics. Still working out the details. If we start it this year, (and make any $), then I can write off the camera he bought for the trip😉.

  • Another cool way to look at side gigs is to take a hobby you love, and find ways to monetize it or help someone with it. It will make the hobby pay for itself and make it feel like it is productive for you to get your head out of medicine and do your hobby for a change of pace. Do you play the guitar, then play at a local restaurant on a Saturday night. Do you like to garden, then plant too much for you and share it with your neighbors or the local food bank. Do you like doing woodwork, make projects for your extended family, friends or a local charity to auction off as a fund raiser.

    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

  • Side hustles have changed my FIRE chase and have helped me reimagine early retirement. The fact that I could continue to make a physician salary remotely from anywhere on the planet opens so many possibilities. I’m grateful for you, PIMD and WCI for turning me on to these. I don’t know where these hustles will lead me, but I know I’ve never been more excited about my career options.

  • OldSoul

    My side hustle is a medical software startup. Over the first 3 years of development, I’ve only been writing checks, but we finally became revenue generating last month. We’ll see where it goes.

    It has been a labor of love. Retirement will be fine with or without it.

  • Pingback: Side Hustle Spotlight 7.8.18 – Side Hustle Scrubs

  • Ed

    I think it’s also important to note that while pursuing a side gig/hustle you will learn new skills and expand your network which may give you additional options in the future.

    I don’t think Docs in general are well rounded as previously mentioned. Most of us come out of medical school only knowing medicine. We don’t know business, real estate, finances, etc. We don’t know how to negotiate, how to buy home, how to invest, how to create additional income streams, how to manage our money…

    The Docs who frequent and interact in the financial blogosphere (WCI, PoF, PIMD, etc) are a small subset of all Docs who pursue education in the finances and WE tend to be more well rounded, whether in the arts of microbrewery, winery, business, finances, taxes, etc.

    Ed

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