Doctors almost always make good money once they leave residency and enter practice as an attending physician – and can reasonably expect to make $200,000 per year and much more in short order, once they get into the swing of things.
But not everyone wants the daily grind and stress of patient care and hospital duty. And as our regular readers are aware, a disability can disrupt your ability to work in your regular specialty, or even continue as an attending physician at all.
Then there’s the risk of a malpractice event, a (hopefully) false claim of sexual harassment in the workplace or any number of workplace issues that can interrupt your career.
This is why it’s a great idea to look at developing a side hustle to earn some extra income.
There are lots of side hustles physicians can pick up to earn money aside from in-person patient care. Some are clinical and some non-clinical.
Telemedicine is a rapidly-growing field providing a lot of full-time and part-time opportunities for physicians. New technologies are allowing doctors to work from home one or two days per week, or even full-time. Nearly 60 percent of large employers now include telemedicine on their health plans – and those visits are visits that aren’t going to conventional family doctors running offices on Main Street.
It’s not ideal – there are certain things you cannot assess over a video screen. But it does provide another affordable option and a convenient additional revenue stream for physicians – and a useful hedge against the potential loss of income from their main employment or practice.
According to Ziprecruiter.com, the average pay for a telemedicine physician is $238,000 per year, though with a wide variation, from $27,000 up to $389,000.
2. Expert witness testimony
Physicians are in high demand as expert witnesses, providing depositions and in-court testimony. Law firms can and do pay doctors anywhere from $125 to $1,000 per hour for their medical expertise and testimony. According to SEAK, the median hourly fee for expert testimony preparation and file review for medical professionals is $345 per hour, and $500 per hour for actual testimony.
If you do testify in a trial, you can expect opposing counsel to vigorously cross examine you, and challenge your expertise and professional reputation any way they can. So have a thick skin, and stick to cases within your specialty, or skilled opposing counsel will unravel you with gusto and laugh about it over lunch.
3. Writing and editing
Many doctors supplement their incomes by writing for medical journals and consumer-facing websites like WebMD.com. Others write trade or text books, medical and nursing school test prep materials and other industry publications. And, of course, a few doctors make millions in mass market publishing. Doctor Atkins sold a few copies of his book.
If you don’t feel like writing, you can supplement your income by reviewing other peoples’ writing. Some publishers have non-physicians do the research and writing, and just have an MD do quality control and fact-checking before publication.
4. File and chart reviewing
Many organizations pay doctors just to look at files and charts and provide their professional opinion. Often these cases are reviewing disability, workers compensation and insurance claims, or assessing whether to pre-authorize medical treatments.
Files are delivered electronically, these days – and you submit reports electronically as well. File and chart reviewing offers an opportunity to earn substantial income from the comfort of your sofa.
Manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies are always looking for doctors to endorse their products. Everything from weight loss pills to exercise equipment to books diet plans to herbal supplements to shoes and socks. And they pay to use your name.
6. Independent medical examinations (IMEs)
According to SEAK, the average independent medical examination generates $830 in income for the physician, with more complex examinations and reports running up to $1,350. You can find additional information and training resources at the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners. SEAK runs a directory of IME providers that reaches 30,000 referral sources.
An IME practice can be a good hedge against the loss of income if a disability or age prevents you from doing surgery or practicing in your usual specialty.