10 Ways to Earn Extra Income With Medical Activities

Leigh Page


December 17, 2012

In This Article

Enjoy the High Seas?

10. Work on a Cruise Ship

For many years, Charles Pexa, MD, a Minneapolis-area emergency physician, has been taking free cruises. In return, he puts in a few hours each day as the ship's doctor, and gets paid for it. "It's an adventure," Dr. Pexa says. "I can travel really inexpensively, and it's usually pleasant work. People on cruises are very easygoing." He serves as a cruise physician several times a year.

The cruise physician works with nurses in a sick bay that is fitted out with state-of the-art equipment, such as radiography equipment, an ECG, and laboratory testing devices. In addition to running 1-hour clinics in the morning and afternoon, the cruise physician is usually on call the rest of the time. Most times that the ship is in port, Dr. Pexa says he has to stay on board.

"This is not a money-making proposition," Dr. Pexa cautions. The pay is about $150 a day, but he and his wife cruise for free. The cruise lasts anywhere from a few days to a month.

"Most of the patients just have aches and pains, but you have to be available in case someone gets really sick," Dr. Pexa says. A medical emergency can be a big problem on the high seas. Once, when a passenger had sepsis, the captain had to turn the ship around and go back to port, Dr. Pexa recalls. Every so often, a cruise ship reports an outbreak of bacteria or a virus, but he has not had to deal with that.

Dr. Pexa has found work on many different cruise lines, but he concedes that finding a job might be more challenging for a doctor with no experience and in another specialty. Cruise lines favor emergency physicians for this work, but they also hire family physicians and internists who have had experience dealing with serious medical emergencies, Dr. Pexa says.

To find out more about becoming a cruise physician, contact the major cruise companies. The Carnival Corporation, the largest cruise line, owns Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Holland America, and Cunard Line. Royal Caribbean International owns Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Cruises. Another option is Norwegian Cruise Line.

Pros: In addition to a modest payment, you and your guest get a free cruise. Patients are friendly and relaxed, and you have a lot of free time.

Cons: You can't make much money from this work, and openings are limited. You have to stay on the ship when it is in port.