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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

Side gigs have become more popular among physicians as a way to create additional income or seek satisfaction outside of their typical day-to-day work. As part of the "Physician Revenue Streams Report," Medscape surveyed more than 1050 physicians and medical residents in Canada between March and May 2022 to ask about their side jobs, how much they earn, and what they hope to accomplish in the future.

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

About 30% of physicians said they were currently engaged in a "side gig" in addition to their primary medical job. Among the 1054 survey participants, 312 said they had "side gig" work that earned them extra money, such as serving as an expert witness, medical consulting, and passive income from investing or rental properties.

In open-ended responses, some physicians listed unique side gigs, such as board game/app development, travel medicine, and agriculture.

One physician is creating "board games, tabletop games, and app development themed around education of antimicrobials, infectious diseases, and stewardship."

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

Among the 312 physicians with a side gig, 194 were men and 117 were women. A higher percentage of men reported that they had a side gig.

In addition, those who had a side gig tended to be older, including 254 physicians over age 45 and 58 physicians under age 45.

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

Many side gigs involved medical-related activities. The most prominent ones included speaking at conferences or giving guest lectures, medical consulting, serving as an expert witness, part-time teaching, reviewing medical cases, and telemedicine.

Men were more likely to review medical cases, moonlight at other medical institutions, or be involved with a healthcare startup, and those over age 45 were more likely to be an expert witness or review medical cases.

In open-ended responses, some physicians listed health clinic work, physician recruitment, and COVID-19 pandemic-related work.

"Working with the military helping keep people safe and healthy!" one physician wrote. "I love my job, and it is going great!"

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

One third of side gigs included non-medical activities, with 27% involved in real estate and 25% involved in investing or investing advice.

Men were more likely to be involved with investing and women were more likely to be involved with arts and crafts. Other side gigs included writing, sports, cooking, music, photography, and raising animals.

In open-ended responses, some physicians listed aviation, construction, gardening, engineering, interior decoration, language lessons, and spiritual work.

"I am devoted to the idea of providing organically grown, high quality nutritious food," one physician wrote. "I also have a husband and son helping, or I could not manage this, as my practice is extremely busy."

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

Most physicians with side gigs said they have been engaged with their additional income streams or passion projects for several years, with an average of about 13 years.

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

Physicians spend about 20 hours per month on their side gigs, alongside their primary role as a doctor. In contrast, most spent between 130-150 hours per month on their full-time physician work.

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

About 39% of physicians with side gigs said they want to earn extra money. Others want to have fun, build a second career for when they retire from medicine, or build life skills. Men were more likely to say they wanted to have fun, as were those over age 45.

In open-ended responses, physicians said they wanted to "help people," provide an "essential service where no one else will," "rebuild family medicine," build a retirement fund, and "make more money with less stress."

"I diversify my work because I am burnt out," one physician wrote. "I still need money and am too young to retire."

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

Among physicians who have been pursuing a side gig for a year or less, about 69% said they're "very likely" to continue their side gig as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes. The remaining 31% said they were likely to continue it.

"I am the sole provider of medically assisted dying in my community of 75,000," one physician wrote. "It is tough to always be available when needed. The work is emotionally difficult but humbling and professionally satisfying. I will likely carry on with this when I leave my full-time anesthesia practice."

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

In the past year, physicians earned an average of $45,000 (in Canadian dollars) from their side gigs, though median earnings were $24,000.

The average for men was about $52,000, as compared with about $32,000 for women.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall average was $41,000, with a median of $20,000.

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

Most physicians with side gigs expert their earnings to grow, though it may not replace their main income. On average, they expect to earn a maximum of $65,000 (in Canadian dollars) annually, though the median expected amount was around $32,500.

Men expected to earn up to $73,000, and women expected to earn about $48,000.

"Once a current project comes fully online, it will represent more earnings than medicine, and I could retire from medicine, if I wished," one physician wrote.

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

About 41% of physicians said their side gig provides the same degree of fulfilment as their main job. Another 37% said the side gig provides more fulfilment, and 22% said it provides less fulfilment.

"Providing healthcare to street youth with experienced staff is very easy and rewarding," one physician wrote.

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

About 42% said their side gig has somewhat helped their work as a physician. Another 24% said their side gig has helped "a lot," while 33% said their side gig has helped "not that much" or "none at all."

One physician who teaches medical students and residents said, "It helps to be in contact with the young new doctors, whom I can help to develop using my experience."

Another said, "Clinical research provides me a bird's eye view of what is coming up in the pipeline."

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

Physicians disclosed several disadvantages to their side gigs, including time, stress, and fatigue. For most people, the time commitment is difficult, particularly if they already work long hours or if they must put in extra hours on weekends. Depending on the side gig, the work can also be emotionally draining, receive little support from others, and have low cash flow.

"Need to market, and I hate marketing," one physician wrote. "Inconsistent work, and therefore, revenue."

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

Physicians listed several factors that are holding them back from being as successful or making as much money as they'd like from their side gig. About 51% said they don't have enough time to devote to it, and 36% said they want to maintain a reasonable work-life balance.

Others said they lacked money to invest in growth, they faced competition from others with similar side gigs, or they wouldn't enjoy the side gig as much if they devoted more time to it.

"I would like a side gig that does not require the chronic fee-for-service model," one physician wrote.

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

About 67% of physicians said they had to learn new skills to pursue or succeed with their side gig.

Two thirds said they learned by reading about the topic or taking courses, whether in-person or online. About 55% asked others for advice, and nearly a third consulted with business or financial experts on business strategy, tactics, or skills.

In open-ended responses, physicians said they learned by serving on committees, working "on the job" and observing others, and asking colleagues for help.

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Canadian Physicians Engage in Side Gigs for Extra Money, Fulfillment, New Skills

Carolyn Crist | September 27, 2022 | Contributor Information

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