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Why 89% of NPs Are Considering or Currently Work a Side Hustle

Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

A recent Doximity poll showed that 89% of NP respondents currently work a side hustle or are considering one. Traditional NP roles remain in high demand, but other pursuits can bring in extra cash, broaden skills, and provide space for more creativity. Below, four NPs share the unique experiences they’ve had with their side hustles. 

Kelly Ruemmele is a pediatric NP in League City, Texas focusing on behavioral development. Her first side gig was working at a primary care clinic on Saturdays, but now she works evenings and weekends in urgent care. 

NP Ruemmele chose to work a side hustle to get more exposure to direct patient care. She noted that because of her multidisciplinary work, her methodology has changed.

“I’ve got a much more holistic approach,” said NP Ruemmele. She also took on a second gig to bring in extra cash. I make anywhere from $50-70/hour, which is helpful [given that] we haven’t received merit raises with our health system in years,” she said. According to the annual nursing salary report, 83% of nurses selected regular merit increases as the most important factor in their overall job satisfaction. NP Ruemmele has found a supplement for this lack of income, but it comes with longer hours. 

Though higher earnings are a large motivator for many to pick up a second job, Zoe O’Brien, a pediatric NP in Frederick, Maryland, had a different motivation.

“I started working at the COVID vaccine clinic because teachers in my area were driving for hours to try and receive their vaccines,” NP O’Brien said. “Schools were closed and my pediatric patients were suffering.” “I make $40 an hour but would do it for nothing as getting people vaccinated was my goal.” 

As a result of this second job, NP O’Brien has deepened her roots in her local community and practiced new skills. In particular, she has “reconnected with many former patients who aged out of my practice,” which has given her the opportunity to learn how to interact with patients across the lifespan. She has also learned from her vaccine clinic coworkers: “We tend to be an older, ‘more seasoned’ group who work very hard in many locations and situations around our county.” She took her knowledge to the next level, sharing her expertise with others by creating a learning module for vaccinators with no previous experience. 

While 35% of poll respondents work a side hustle within medicine, 12% have a side hustle outside of medicine. Jamie Reddinger, a pediatric NP in Sewickley, Pennsylvania was on the hunt for something more innovative. “I started a small business selling soap and skincare as a creative outlet,” she said.

Small businesses can be complicated when considering legalities and business decisions, but NP Reddinger noted that these challenges have come with valuable lessons.

“Running a small business has taught me resilience,” she said. “I have experienced more roadblocks and challenges running a business by myself than I have experienced in health care, as we typically work as a team to deliver patient care and you have support from your colleagues.” When asked if she would recommend a side hustle to others, she said, “I definitely recommend nurturing hobbies that help you disconnect from work, especially for health care workers. Not everyone has to start a business, but having a creative outlet is important.”

Jason Seay, a family NP in Edmond, Oklahoma also enjoys spending time on something unrelated to his daily work. “My real estate investing has no crossover information from my job in pediatrics. That’s probably why I like it so much, it’s a break from medicine,” he said.

He chose real estate because, he said, “I already had a good working knowledge and it had a safe return on investment. In 15-20 years when I need the money, it will be very profitable.” His advice to others: “Don’t be afraid to start something up for [yourself.]” 

Side hustles have a wide range of benefits, both financial and personal. However, nearly all of the  NPs cited balancing time as one of the biggest challenges when it comes to a second job. “I’ve had to limit my hours to keep myself from becoming fatigued and burned out,” said NP Ruemmele.

Time is likely the limiting factor for the 42% of poll respondents who do not currently work a side hustle, but would like to. While it may be a challenge, NP Seay views time as an investment.

“You always have to decide what your time is worth and try to get it,” NP Seay said. “A good side hustle will either take a lot of work or a lot of money (or both) to start up. You will get out of it what you are willing to put into it.”

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