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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

The side gig, or "side hustle," has become a popular way for physicians to create an additional income stream or pursue a passion project. To gauge the prevalence of side gigs, Medscape surveyed more than 2500 US physicians and asked about their side jobs, how much they are earning, and what they hope to achieve.

"The combination of burnout, uncertainty, and frustration about the direction of the healthcare landscape, and changing demographics in medicine, continue to push physicians to develop a plan B over a traditional career in medicine," said Nisha Mehta, MD, a radiologist who has founded two online communities, Physician Side Gigs and Physician Community. "The number of physicians expressing interest in nonclinical medical careers or pursuing careers outside of medicine is increasing and poses a real health policy issue."

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Overall, nearly 4 in 10 doctors currently have a side gig. "I have seen physicians pursue side gigs more and more in recent years," says David I. Beran, DO, emergency physician and writer. "Sometimes they are clinical jobs (like moonlighting), sometimes they're not clinical but medical (like file review or expert witnessing), and sometimes they're neither (business, investing, real estate, etc.)."

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

"The data are actually very encouraging when you consider antiquated stereotypes of male and female physicians," says Nisha Mehta, MD, a radiologist who has founded two online communities, Physician Side Gigs and Physician Community. "To me, it states that despite the challenges that female physicians traditionally face in finding the bandwidth to balance work, family, and a side gig, particularly during their first decade and a half of practice, women physicians are finding innovative ways to create fulfilment and flexibility in their careers."

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

A majority of side gigs involve medical-related activities. More men than women are doing chart review (20% vs 12 %), serving as an expert witness (25% vs 11 %), and providing medical consulting (27% vs 11%). (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Additional medical side gigs include medical director of a biotech company; medical director at a pediatric rehab facility; medical review officer for an insurance board; taking medical surveys; nursing home wound care; peer review; pharma consultant ; and aeromedical examiner.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Real estate and investing (or providing investment advice) are the most popular side gigs. Real estate is the leading nonmedical side gig for women (19%). For men, real estate and investing/investing advice are tied for most popular nonmedical side gig (23%).

"I've noticed a lot more physicians pursuing side gigs in which they create something of their own," says Mehta. "Some common examples include course creation, coaching businesses, podcasts, and writing books, but we've also seen more members dive deeper into pursuing product development or creating their own company in the health tech industry." Mehta also notes that interest in telemedicine seems to have decreased quite a bit, "in part secondary to decreasing compensation and increased fears of liability as many telemedicine companies shift their models."

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Side gigs have staying power; physicians who have had a side gig for at least a year have been involved with it for an average of 10 years.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

"It's almost impossible for me to get enough time to get this really going," said one respondent. "I end up having to use my vacation time and my family time to work my side gig. Yes, it's bringing in money and I'm glad for that, but I'm afraid it's going to lead to burnout, and my family is annoyed about my lack of free time."

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Money is the main driver for almost half of physicians who have a side gig. PCPs and specialists equally said that having an additional income stream is their primary goal.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Women (7%) more often than men (2%) said that their main goal is to pursue a hobby or talent, hoping it will turn into their primary career. Both men (50%) and women (45%) said that earning extra money is their primary goal for having a side gig.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Among physicians who started their side gig within the past 12 months, almost half said that COVID challenges influenced their decision. According to Medscape's Physician Compensation Report 2021, many physicians saw their income drop because of job loss, reduced hours, or reduced patient volume during the pandemic.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Physicians earned an average of $25,300 from their side gig in the past 12 months. Still, even side gig income suffered last year due to COVID. Before COVID, physicians typically earned an average of $28,600 annually from their side gig. Men ($31,000) earned more than women ($23,300).

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Most physicians with side gigs expect their earnings to grow, although not to the point of replacing their primary income. Doctors hope to earn an average of $35,400 annually from their side gig in the near term. Men ($37,300) expect to earn more than women ($32,000).

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

The most important question from a tax perspective is whether the activity is a "trade or business" or merely a "hobby." In both cases, any income generated would be taxable, although a trade or business generally allows for more tax deductions.

A trade or business is an activity in which you enter into and carry on with a good-faith intention to earn a profit. You must also engage in the activity on a regular and continuous basis. If the activity doesn't rise to the level of a trade or business, then it may be considered a hobby.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

For the large majority, their side gig is as, if not more, fulfilling than their primary job. "In a healthcare landscape that's increasingly challenging, the side gig offers physicians an opportunity to do something on their own terms as well as use a different part of their brains," says Mehta. "This leads to new skillsets, networks, and mental breaks from the stress of their day jobs, all of which can be tremendously fulfilling and ultimately counter burnout."

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Physicians rarely seek side gigs because they dislike their primary jobs; rather, they are typically involved with a side gig to earn money. Almost two thirds of respondents are either satisfied or very satisfied with their primary job.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

"If your goal is to develop a successful healthcare consulting firm, for example, you'd need a significant amount of time and investment," says Beran. "If you simply want to dabble for extra income, you could devote a few hours per week. It may take years of dabbling to find a good blend of side gigs that meet several ends. Physicians have a successful position and a high income; the barriers, risks, and goals are very different from someone who is just starting out or forming a new start up."

Results are from the 61% of respondents who said they were less successful with their side gig than they could be. Respondents could choose more than one answer.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Some physicians say they learned their skills "on the job." One said, "You can learn almost anything online these days." Some physicians networked to find a mentor working in the area they've chosen as their side gig.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

Over half of physicians have read or consulted with business/financial coaches or experts to learn some of the business strategy, tactics, or skills they need to make their side gig successful.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

About 7 in 10 respondents who are engaged in a side gig believe that they would/did benefit some or a lot by gaining business skills and financial knowledge for running a business.

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

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Side Gigs: Physicians Seek Extra Income; More Satisfaction

Leslie Kane, MA | July 1, 2022 | Contributor Information

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