"Gig Economy": 6 ways to earn extra money on the side

Published on: Oct 30, 2017


With the trend towards short-term employment on the rise, physicians have more choices to earn additional income. The old standards of working longer hours or growing one’s practice are giving way to the stronger desire for work-life balance. Physician burn-out has also created a desire for physicians to recharge their batteries with varied and intellectually challenging assignments. According to Medscape, engaging in additional work that differs from day-to-day activities has been reported to help fend off burn-out and increase overall professional satisfaction. Earning additional income is not always the primary reason to pursue part-time employment, but it is always helpful to make extra money without impacting your day job. To follow are 6 part-time opportunities available to an entrepreneurial physician.

Use Your Writing Skills

There is almost no limit to how much a physician can make as a successful writer. Physician authors of text books can earn up to a 15% royalty, depending on the number of sales. Technical writing can pay as much as $100 per hour. With the right job, talented physicians working solely as technical medical writers can earn as much, if not more than, physicians in clinical practice. Writing can also create opportunities in teaching, consulting and speaking, earning physicians with proven writing skills upwards of $500 per hour. Additionally, for those who are more passionate about writing, self-publishing a book can create a passive income stream, keeping more of the proceeds in their pocket. For inspiration, Tess Gerritsen, MD (author of the Rizzoli & Isles novels and subsequent TV show) is a successful fiction writer, earning seven figures annually.

Become a Supervisor for a Practice

There are many independent practices and retail clinics headed up by nurse practitioners or physician assistants that legally require a supervising doctor on staff. The work includes reviewing charts, attending meetings with the practitioner and being available to answer questions as they arise. Calls or emails can range from 10-15 per month according to Fitzgerald Health Education Associates, a test review course provider in North Andover, Massachusetts. Physicians can earn $10,000 to $15,000 per year as a supervisor, and the work can be done in their free time.

Provide Online Consultations

The virtual consultation has become a popular income stream for physicians. Companies like American Well and TelaDoc lease their software to doctors who are doing consultations from the comfort of their home to current and new patients. If state laws permit, online consultation is an easy way to earn extra income because there is no overhead of travel or office space and no need to perform procedures. Also, availability to patients across the country as opposed to just your state or local area, make the potential for growth unlimited. Physicians can even write short term prescriptions as needed and fax or send them directly to the patient’s local pharmacy. The average price of a 15-minutevirtual consult can range from about $15 to $50.

Become a Medical Expert

Work as a medical expert can range from reviewing cases to appearing in court as a witness for an attorney. Working behind the scenes reviewing cases can pay $100-$300 an hour and doesn’t require a court appearance, where the possibility of grueling cross-examinations can be unnerving. This can involve evaluating whether a claim has merit or writing reports that are used to adjust or settle cases. Appearing in court as an expert witness requires a strong constitution and an established area of expertise.  Steve Babitsky of SEAK Inc., an expert witness training company in Falmouth Massachusetts, advises physicians interested in pursuing this path to create a website and develop a niche. Another route would be to work directly for a service that supplies expert witnesses, like SEAK  or TASA Group.

Bear in mind that expert witness work is part-time work in the strictest sense to maintain the physician’s legitimacy as an expert. As a result, most lawyers prefer employing a medical expert with legal work limited to 3%-5% of their overall income. Earnings can average $2,000 to $5,000 per case.

Work for a Nursing Home

Physicians caring for nursing home patients usually work part-time to remain focused on quality of care. Dealing with elderly and infirm patients requires deep compassion and infinite patience, which can be difficult for a doctor in a full-time position with several facilities to visit. Reuben Tovar, MD a medical director for 2 nursing home facilities in Austin TX, advises physicians to consider serving as a medical director for these facilities. The job of medical director for a nursing home averages $70,000-$80,000 per year and requires at least 20 hours of work per month, according to Simply Hired. This does not include an additional 10 hours per month seeing patients in the facility, which can be done in one day. Medical directors must be empathetic, reliable and specialize in older patients. The ability to easily interface with staff and family members is also a prerequisite for a good medical director. Physicians who want to pursue the medical director route can attend classes approved by the American Medical Directors Association (AMDA) to obtain certification.

Make House Calls

The idea sounds old-fashioned and conjures the image of the bespectacled town physician, black bag in hand, calling on his or her local bedridden patients. However, working for a company or as a freelancer can be a great job for a physician who is not interested in running a brick-and-mortar private practice, or for a new resident or a semi-retired physician winding down his or her private practice. More insurers are nudging physicians toward home visits to reduce hospital admissions. Physicians can earn up to $70 per visit through companies like Doctors Making Housecalls or Inn House Doctor, and almost twice as much freelancing. Making house calls is ideal for physicians with means to get around quickly and easily and with patients nearby.

Once you decide to become a member of the gig economy, you’ll need visit sites like Freelance MD to investigate what is available in your area. Lastly, keep an open mind - you may determine you’ve found your true calling and decide to turn your new gig into full-time career.


Sources: Medscape.com; physiciansfirstmessages.com With the trend towards short-term employment on the rise, physicians have more choices to earn additional income.