8 non-traditional side hustles for doctors

You’re a motivated person by nature. Most physicians are. (You wouldn’t have made it through medical school if you weren’t, right?) You take pride in your ability to visualize an end goal and then formulate a plan to achieve it, whether it’s improving the standard of care within your practice or fitting more family time into your weekly schedule.

This same motivation is likely what’s driving you to consider one of the various side hustles for doctors. Sure, you’ve achieved a lot over the course of your career — but who says you have to put a limit on your ambition?

A side hustle doesn’t just allow you to earn a little extra. It provides the opportunity to gain new skills, meet other like-minded professionals, and challenge yourself in fresh and exciting ways. 

A “side hustle” can leverage the skills, experience, and perspective of a physician’s experience for the benefit of a greater circle of people.

OBGYN, U.S.

Simply put? You’re not looking for physician side jobs for the money alone. You’re also looking because you enjoy seizing new opportunities and furthering your personal and professional growth. While most physicians still claim extra income as the main benefit of a side hustle (41%), a recent Sermo survey revealed that 21% of physicians take on side hustle to improve their skills, while 17% value the opportunity to expand their professional network.

Side hustles are good for economic and personal growth.

GP, Pakistan

Sermo members can see the full poll results in the community. Physicians get access for free!

Join now

Already a member? Click here to view the results.

Let’s take a closer look at physician side gigs and determine the ideal solution for you.

Is a side hustle worth it?

This is likely the first question you’ll ask yourself before committing to a physician side hustle. Ultimately, you want to know if it’ll be worth the time, energy, and effort required. While side hustles aren’t for everyone, over half of physicians (54%) report that they currently have a second stream of income.  

The success of your doctor side hustle will depend on a couple of different factors:

1. How motivated you are

If you’re a self-starter who enjoys taking on new challenges, chances are a side hustle will work out in your favor. But if you’re prone to procrastination or you have a tendency to overcommit your time and regret it later, you may want to give your next steps a little more thought. Side hustles require commitment, just like any other endeavor. It’s best to be realistic about your level of drive before getting started.

2. How well your side hustle fits into your current schedule

One critical aspect that determines the success of side hustles for doctors is time. Physicians often have irregular schedules, struggle with burnout, or spend well above the typical 40 hours per week fulfilling their duties — leaving a small fraction of free time available for additional commitments. For best results, you’ll want to find a method of earning passive income that doesn’t eat away at your (already limited) spare time.

3. How much you stand to gain from a side hustle

We all have aspects of our lives we want to improve, but only you know which improvements will have the greatest impact on your own quality of life. It could be paying down student loan debt, taking an extra vacation per year, or eliminating mortgage payments by owning your home outright. Whatever your goal is, the opportunity to make extra money is there.

Over one third (38%) of Sermo survey respondents reported earning between $1,000 and $15,000 annually from their side gigs. 

Types of side hustles

Having an in-depth understanding of what each of the side jobs for physicians offers you is an essential part of making the right decision. Before searching for your next side hustle, we strongly encourage you to consider which type of income best suits both your current situation and your future goals.

Each doctor side hustle falls under one of two different categories:

1. Passive income

Passive income refers to any revenue-generating activity which requires a minimal amount of labor, effort, or commitment. Monetizing an online blog, investing in the stock market, or renting out your basement suite are just a few examples of passive income. Physicians can benefit from these revenue streams because they are established and continue to generate income whether or not the individual is actively engaged in the activity. Nearly half (47%) of physicians report currently having some form of passive income.

2. Active income

Active income refers to any revenue-generating activity which requires a person’s time, service, or effort. Salaries, tips, commissions, and fees are all examples of active income. Sermo physicians reported participating in the following forms of active income at some point in their career:

  • Medical surveys – 33% 
  • Contributing to a community – 14% 
  • Writing – 12%
  • Telemedicine – 11%
  • Speaking engagements – 10% 

There are lots of forms of active income available to physicians, and they don’t always have to be specific to the medical community. 19% of survey respondents reported being active in a variety of other areas and industries:

4 Active income side jobs for physicians

1. Take online surveys

Getting paid to provide your opinion. Does it get any better than that? You can fill out online questionnaires for a wide variety of businesses, organizations, and educational institutions — all while getting paid for your time. Most compensate participants based on a per survey basis, while some others pay per hour. 

You can use your medical expertise for good with surveys for physicians, participating in research studies and contributing to the latest medical developments.

The complete flexibility in terms of time commitment also makes online surveys a smart side hustle for doctors. You can choose to complete as many surveys as you wish, as most platforms do not have a minimum requirement. 

Additionally, there is no upfront cost associated with taking online surveys. You can register an account on most sites for free and begin submitting applications in minutes. Just remember that you may not qualify for every survey, so you’ll need to be diligent in responding to invites in order to maximize your profits.

Want to start getting invited to paid medical surveys?

Join Now

Sermo members earned $25 million+ in 2021

2. Selling items on eBay

Selling items on eBay remains an easy way to generate an additional income with a minimum amount of effort. Regardless of what you want to sell, there is a market on eBay.

Some doctors may be collectors of old vinyl or art prints. Others may simply have lots of household items they want to sell. Getting started on eBay is easy, with no maximum earnings ceiling.

To get started, all you need is an eBay account and a camera. A good quality smartphone camera can take professional-quality snaps of any items you wish to sell.

Write a compelling, engaging description of the item you are listing and respond quickly when a sale occurs.

3. Become an expert witness

When medical cases reach the courtroom, an attorney may need to call upon a med-legal expert to inform the prosecution or defense. Offering your services as a consultant can yield more money per hour than you would make as a doctor.

If you need to actually appear in a courtroom, it is not unheard of for a doctor to clear their schedules and receive a handsome payout of $10,000 per day.

Some doctors may even receive a regular retainer from an attorney they work with regularly.

Medical witness work is one of the most lucrative side hustles for physicians available to medical professionals because it usually requires nothing more than sharing your knowledge and experience in the interests of justice.

4. Review insurance claims

Similar to medical witness work, insurance companies will also call upon medical professionals in their line of business.

Reviewing insurance claims can be time-consuming, as they often come with lots of charts and statistics. However, committed doctors who have the time can potentially earn thousands every month for this work.

Most cases typically involve doctors who have billed for a procedure that the insurer suspects may have been elective. In the event an insurer appeals a claim, an independent doctor will be required to review that claim.

Connecting with an insurer and offering your services as an independent medical reviewer is an excellent side hustle option.

4 ways to generate passive income for physicians

1. Start a YouTube channel

YouTube is a powerful revenue generator if utilized correctly. And since the options are truly endless when it comes to the type of video content you can share, your creativity can really be harnessed here. Tutorials, product reviews, vlogs, and educational videos are all popular content ideas that can generate thousands of views. 

Doctors can share tips on dealing with common conditions at home, when to see a doctor, and general health tips.

In addition to getting paid by YouTube based on view count, brands may also be willing to sponsor your videos if you have a large enough audience, increasing your profits significantly. 

The catch? YouTube videos are a great form of passive income after they’ve been uploaded to the platform — they require a considerable amount of effort to plan, make, schedule, and promote. They can also be expensive to produce if you are committed to creating high-quality content. 

These are all factors you’ll need to deliberate on before launching your own channel. It’s better to go into your side hustle with a clear understanding of how frequently you’ll post, how much time you can commit to creating content and promoting your channel, and a clear idea of where your limits are.

Some examples of physicians who have achieved great success through YouTube include: Doctor Mike, Chubbyemu, and Doctor Eye Health.

2. Sell your photos online

Are you an amateur photographer or is photography one of your favorite pastimes? You can earn money by simply making your images available for purchase on the internet. This is one of the best sources of passive income for doctors who want to further explore and harness their creativity. The average stock photo agency pays $0.32 per image download, which can add up quickly depending on the number of images you provide and how appealing or relevant they are to a specific audience. 

Corporate images taken in an office setting are almost always in high demand, for instance, as are images of healthy foods, city landscapes, and human facial expressions.

Plus, you won’t even need to invest in your new photography side hustle upfront if you already have a camera or high quality smartphone camera. Simply start snapping and uploading to websites like Shutterstock or iStock to begin earning a supplementary income. 

3. Invest in real estate

Real estate is a lucrative and popular source of passive income for physicians. While it does take a significant upfront investment to get started, owning real estate is easily one of the most profitable revenue generating activities over the long term.

If you can purchase a property that will generate enough in rent to cover mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance costs, it may be the ideal side hustle. When you’re finally ready to sell the property, you’ll likely have accumulated tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity.

The key to success with rental properties is to choose a place that aligns with your own personal lifestyle and future goals. For example, single family homes will require more on-going maintenance than a condominium. If you aren’t interested in receiving late night phone calls about a leaky roof or broken furnace, a single family home likely isn’t the best investment for you.

With the right information and a strategic approach, you’ll be able to choose a property that perfectly accommodates your needs and provides you with the highest possible return on your investment.

4. Peer-to-peer lending

When people are unable to secure financing through traditional methods, they often turn to peer-to-peer lending — a practice that allows individuals to provide money to others in need and then receive their money back (plus interest) in installments. Most P2P lenders earn 5-10% on their initial investment and they maintain more control over who receives their loan, choosing the recipient based on their creditworthiness, employment history, and other factors.

You should know there are requirements to become a P2P lender, however. Requirements are defined by whichever P2P lending platform you decide to join. Mainly, you will need to invest a minimum amount, but some jurisdictions may require P2P lenders to comply with investing regulations.

There are also some risks associated with becoming a P2P lender. The recipient of your loan could file for bankruptcy, or you could earn less if the recipient pays the loan back faster than expected. Only you know what kind of chances you’re willing to take with your hard-earned money, so it’s always advisable to conduct a personal risk assessment before taking the leap.

Start earning extra with physician surveys

At Sermo, we’re all about empowering health care professionals to be the best they can be — which is why we offer opportunities to make money through our paid physician surveys

Each completed survey not only provides a supplemental income to the doctors who use our platform, but it also contributes to greater medical advancements and industry progress. Your responses allow us to gather real, tangible insights from the frontlines of healthcare and use those insights to inform and guide initiatives of change.

In short? We’re not just looking to pick your brain. We’re on a mission to improve healthcare for all. 

medical research survey invite
Medical research survey invite

How it works

Curious about how to get started? All it takes is 3 simple steps:

  1. We’ll send you an email invitation to complete a survey that’s tailored to your unique qualifications
  2. You complete the survey. We only accept a limited number of responses so we always recommend acting fast!
  3. You’ll receive your honoraria which you can redeem in multiple different forms of payment including Amazon gift cards or a Mastercard debit card. The choice is yours!

Get started immediately

If you’d rather not keep refreshing your inbox in hopes of receiving a survey invitation, you can log into Sermo and click on the “Surveys” tab in the top right hand corner of your screen. This is where you’ll find all open surveys. Just be sure to review the participant criteria and you’re all set.

Physicians registered with Sermo have collectively earned more than $25 million in the last year from taking medical surveys. Your feedback can help shape the future of medicine. If you’re ready to seize new opportunities and further your personal growth, we encourage you to join our market research and social network for doctors and partner with more than 1 million physicians worldwide.