Side gigs for physicians: The best ways to earn passive & active income

If you’re a doctor looking for a way to bolster your income, or just feel that your present income doesn’t equate to your overall efforts, we have a tailor-made remedy.

What is this financial solution? Well, we’re referring to side hustles, or gigs. And as of 2023, over 39% of Americans have one. The statistics reveal some surprises too, with households earning above $100,000 per year actually more likely to have a side hustle. For a full breakdown of side hustles in the US, check out this article from Bankrate. 

As a provider of one such avenue stream, one of the most common questions we get asked is whether side hustles are worth it for doctors, and as you can see, the data points to a resounding yes!

However, not all side gigs are created equal. In this article, we’ll cover the best side hustles for healthcare professionals, what you should consider, and how to maximize your impact in the most efficient way possible. 

Want to see how your salary stacks up against other specialties?

Why side hustles work for doctors and healthcare professionals

The majority of physicians are naturally motivated (medical school is a testament to this!). They’re also incredibly methodical, which is reflected in how physicians achieve goals through meticulous planning. Whether that’s improving the standard of care within a practice or balancing family time into a stretched schedule. 

It’s these traits that make you a perfect candidate for earning extra income and to exceed the status quo. But a side hustle doesn’t just allow you to earn extra income. It can also provide the opportunity to further professional growth by acquiring new skills, meeting like-minded healthcare professionals, and challenging yourself in fresh and exciting ways, keeping you sharp.

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


Here’s what a recent Sermo survey revealed: 

  • 41% say earning extra income is the main benefit. 
  • 21% of physicians take on side hustle to improve their skills.
  • And 17% value the opportunity to expand their professional network.

[Physician] side hustles are good for economic and personal growth.

GP, Pakistan

The keys for a successful side hustle

Over half of physicians (54%) report that they currently have a second stream of income. While this may be the case, you may be asking if a side hustle is suited to your specific needs, and if it warrants the time, energy and effort required. 

To help answer this, we’ve compiled some key factors that determine the success of a physician side hustle: 

1. You’re motivated

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 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. Keep reading to see how you can choose the best physician side hustle for your availability.

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 thatdoesn’t eat away at your (already limited) spare time. Some popular choices that require little time, which we will discuss further below, include diversified real estate investments, index funds, Roth IRAs, short term rental income and secure person-to-person lending.

3. How much you and your patients 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 med school student loan debt, taking an extra vacation per year, achieving financial independence or eliminating mortgage payments by owning your home outright. Whatever your goal is, the opportunity to make extra money with physician side gigs is there. Additionally, nearly all of the best sources of side income for physicians also have a positive impact on patient outcomes, medical research and medical device innovation. It’s a win-win.

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

Types of healthcare professional 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.

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

1. Passive income

Passive income refers to any revenue-generating activity which requires little to no amount of labor, effort, or time. 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. 

Sermo found, 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% 
  • Medical 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:

Medical writers, expert witnesses, and medical consultants all earn active income

How to find the best physician side gigs

There are numerous ways to find side hustles for doctors but these methods have proven to be the most effective:

  • Join a trusted physician platform: Certain physician-only online communities, such as Sermo, provide additional income opportunities for physicians as well as a place to network and collaborate with peers who are working on side projects.
  • Use Linkedin to connect with doctor side hustles: simply go to the search bar and enter the category of job (like “physician witness”). Also, you can set your job interests for these categories to receive email alerts when these types of jobs become available.

5 active income side jobs for physicians

1. Take online surveys

Paid medical surveys are the most straightforward way to earn extra income. In essence, you get paid for providing your opinion to pharmaceutical companies, market research companies and clinical researchers. It doesn’t get much easier than that!  

Online questionnaires tend to compensate participants based on a per survey basis, while others pay per hour. Generally, the longer the survey, the more income you will earn.

Paid medical surveys for physicians utilize your specialized knowledge to facilitate new research studies and contribute to the latest medical developments, making them one of the most fulfilling side incomes for physicians.

Plus, they’re 100% flexible. You can choose to complete as many surveys as you wish and  when you want, as most platforms do not have a minimum requirement. 

Another benefit of paid online surveys for doctors is zero upfront costs so you can start earning additional income right away. 

You can register an account on most sites for free and begin submitting applications in minutes. The best sites, like Sermo, match you with survey opportunities based on your expertise, and bring them straight to your inbox. 

Submitting verification documents and setting up your account fully and accurately will give you the more relevant opportunities to earn. 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.For our complete guide on earning extra income for physicians, visit our healthcare professional resources page here.

2. Telemedicine

If you wonder how much do telemedicine doctors make per hour, the answer is as much, and sometimes more than normal clinic hours. Plus, you can save time and energy seeing patients through telemedicine services. 

Telemedicine is a side gig for doctors that provides a lot of flexibility – a rarity in the medical industry. For physicians who specialize in adult or pediatric care and psychiatry, telemedicine is specifically a great option for you. 

There are a few niche websites that offer specialty calls, but most telemedicine opportunities are currently made for internal medicine, family practice, or pediatric specialists.

For more statistics and opportunities relating to telemedicine and its rapid expansion, download Sermo’s complete 2023 Healthcare Tech Trend Report.

3. Selling items on eBay

Selling items on eBay remains an easy way to earn extra income for doctors 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.

4. 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 seeing patients or doing clinical work. Being an expert witness is one of the best side incomes for doctors currently available.

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 retainer from an attorney or legal group they work with regularly.

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

5. Review health insurance claims

Similar to working as an expert medical witness, health 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 medical 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 for doctors.

7 ways to generate passive income for physicians

1. Start a YouTube channel

YouTube is a powerful source of additional income for doctors if utilized correctly. Tutorials, product reviews, vlogs, and educational videos are all popular content ideas that can generate thousands of views. 

The options are endless when it comes to the type of video content you can share. Here are some examples: 

  • Sharing educational tips related to common conditions at home.
  • When to see a doctor
  • Answering frequently asked patient questions
  • And offering health tips related to your medical expertise or clinical work

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 for doctors – 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. Medical writing

Many research companies, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare companies, and medical organizations will pay medical doctors significantly to write articles.

Medical writing can be a valuable physician side gig where doctors leverage their medical knowledge and writing skills to communicate scientific information in an easier to understand way. It offers flexible working hours and the opportunity to work remotely, providing an additional source of income without significantly compromising clinical work.

Furthermore, medical writing can enhance your medical career development by fostering skills in research, critical analysis, and communication, which are essential in many roles. Interested in writing with Sermo? Contact us today.

3. Sell your stock 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. 

Medical and corporate healthcare images taken in an office setting are always in high demand. Images of healthy foods, city landscapes, and human facial expressions reacting to healthcare professionals are other popular categories. 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 more money.

4. Invest in real estate

Real estate is a lucrative and long-standing 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.

5. Passive rental income

Airbnb achieved another record year in 2022, with a 40% Year over Year revenue growth ($8.4 billion, or 46% ex-FX). 

You too can reap the rewards of flexible renting. And if short-term rentals are not your thing, you can always offer long-term rental agreements which generally involve little to no maintenance once set up. You can even have a management company take care of the property and customer interactions for you.

There are many other hosting platforms available as well. was originally created solely to host traveling healthcare professionals, making it a strong option for anyone in the medical industry. 

While not for everyone, if you enjoy hosting others, rental income can be one of the most rewarding side hustles for physicians and other healthcare professionals.

6. Diversified index or mutual funds

As a busy physician, securing your financial future is a high priority. But how can you create passive income streams without sacrificing your valuable time? One answer lies in investing in index funds.

Index funds are a type of investment vehicle that tracks the performance of a specific market index, such as the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average. You can even invest in global indexes, essentially the entire average of the stock market. By mirroring broader market trends, these funds offer more stable and secure returns compared to actively managed funds. 

With their low maintenance requirements and relatively low fees, index funds present an attractive source of passive income for physicians with a little long-term risk tolerance.

Since they represent a broad range of industries and companies, any fluctuations in individual stocks are offset by the overall market’s performance. This results in more predictable returns, with historical average returns of around 7-8% per year, depending on the index and interest rates.

Some reputable index funds that some doctors might consider include:

  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX)
  • Fidelity 500 Index Fund (FXAIX)
  • Charles Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund (SWTSX)

These funds offer exposure to different segments of the market, allowing physicians to build a diversified portfolio with minimal effort and auto balancing of your portfolio. 

While index funds are generally considered secure, it’s essential to recognize that no investment is without risk. Market fluctuations can affect the value of your investments, and past performance does not guarantee future returns. This is a long-term investment. Make sure to educate yourself and speak to an adviser before making any major decisions.

7. 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 loan money to others in need and get paid 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. 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 Sermo’s 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.

How paid surveys works

Curious about how to get started? Start earning in 3 simple steps:

  1. We’ll send an email invitation to complete a survey that’s tailored to your unique qualifications
  2. You complete the survey. The surveys have expiration deadlines and a limited number of available respondents 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. They also receive the latest medical news updates, complimentary physician resources, easy and secure ways to collaborate and network with doctors worldwide from over 90 specialties.

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.