The age of the lifelong physician career has ended. While, the “old-school physicians” immersed themselves in their careers until retirement (which some never did), a new breed of physicians is now born. In the times of our failing medical system, physicians are becoming “woke” — realizing that working 40 years as a physician in the current climate is clearly unsustainable and frankly undesirable.
However, physicians are awakening to the fact that there is more to life than “being a good clinician.” That is why more and more physicians are leaving the “traditional model” of medicine to do their own thing. However, the idea of having multiple sources of income or being an entrepreneur can be foreign. But, with the proper vision, mindset, and skills, being an entrepreneur can provide freedom from the chains that this medical system has placed upon us.
I have recognized six profitable side gigs:
Starting Your Investment Portfolio. Investing is one way to begin to build a second stream of income without having to leave your current job or career. Of course, familiarize yourself with the various aspects of investing (e.g., real estate, FOREX, cryptocurrency, stock market) so that you can make an informed decision on what works best for you. The best way to get started is to meet with a financial planner and an investment professional to determine your goals, risk tolerance, and liquidity. When navigated correctly, this can be a very lucrative passive stream of income.
Investing in Real Estate. Some physicians are investing in real estate to generate passive income. Platforms such as The White Coat Investor, Passive MD, and The Physician’s Road provide physicians with practical tools and tips on how to get started in real estate investments. There are many kinds of real estate investments including, but not limited to: long-term rentals, rehab and flipping, vacation or short-term rentals, and land investments. Many physicians new to real estate investing may start with residential. However, there are ways to invest in commercial real estate through syndication if you have access to larger sums of cash and are looking to make a significant return on investment. As Dr. Eric Tait of Vernonville Asset Management once said to me when I interviewed him on my podcast, “The key is to know your real estate personality and do your research to know what real estate pathway is right for you.”
Writing. Writing is becoming an increasingly popular way to generate extra income. From guest blogging to industry writing — in this case the medical industry — you can be paid per article. This can provide a steady stream of income depending on the amount of time it may take you to write an article. Breaking into the writing industry may be challenging if you don’t know where to start. There are plenty of small business owners who are looking for freelance blog writers, especially in the health industry. Research different freelance sites, such as Upwork, a site for freelancers to bid on various opportunities, to help connect you with a long-term and profitable gig. Remember to negotiate rates that are worth your time.
Coaching or Consulting. Coaching and consulting are different from each other. Consulting allows you to provide advice on a specific topic or area for a set fee — usually a business-to-business interaction. Coaching allows you to guide a client in the right direction based on their goals and desires — a business-to-consumer interaction. Getting into coaching or consulting can be a great way to transition out of clinical medicine. It’s how I made my transition. It can be very lucrative with the appropriate training, guidance, and mindset. While consulting doesn't necessarily require extra training or certifications, coaching usually does. If you like one-on-one work with clients (individual or group), these could be viable options for you.
Public Speaking. Many physicians may not realize the income opportunity in public speaking. Often, when invited to speak, we may not be paid. However, how many of us actually ask to be paid? Many hospitals and organizations have a budget for speakers — especially if it’s for grand rounds, fundraising events, or organizational CME events. But, they may not mention this upfront, and they may attempt to give you the lowest possible honorarium possible. If you are looking to get paid to speak, you must be willing to ask for the money. You can simply ask what their budget is, tell them what you normally charge, then negotiate an acceptable medium.
Internet Marketing. Internet marketing can provide active and passive streams of income as often discussed on BootCampMD. Online courses, public domain products and programs, and affiliate marketing programs can become great passive streams of income — provided you have a system in place for making sales. With a sales system and a good niche product or program, the revenue from internet sales can easily grow over time. The great thing about internet marketing business is that these businesses can be built part time while you are still practicing medicine.
Having a side gig is becoming very popular in our current state of medicine, and women in medicine and physician moms are becoming very savvy in this arena. Alternative careers are possible and it does not have to be as hard as you think to take that leap into new territory. Know that there are physician coaches, conferences, and programs that can educate and support you in whatever nontraditional side gig path you choose without having to get a whole other degree.
Maiysha Clairborne, MD is an integrative medicine physician and physician-business and entrepreneur coach. Having transitioned from clinical medicine, she primarily specializes in helping other physicians find their passion & purpose through entrepreneurship. She is the author of several books including "Behind the White Coat: Conversations Unplugged," and is the host of the podcast "Next Level Physicians Thriving Outside the Box." Read her blog and listen to her podcast here.
Illustration by April Brust