Education and teaching jobs for physicians — 7 ways to supplement your income and gain teaching experience as a side gig

Sep 28, 2020

As doctors, we spend a massive amount of time in school and training before we’re let loose to practice medicine on our own. Even after reaching the attending-level of practice, the time spent engaged in continuing education is not minimal. Exposure to teaching is ingrained in us. It makes sense, then, that teaching jobs for physicians are appealing to many of us. 

Many medical professionals become teachers themselves, on some level. There are many types of teaching jobs for physicians – both full-time and as a side gig. This article covers a variety of options in the latter category. 

Teaching doesn’t have to mean that you spend all day in a classroom. For doctors, it doesn’t mean spending your career in academic medicine. The many teaching options for physicians differ by subject, student type, learning environment, purpose, and other factors. 

Teaching jobs for physicians can be onsite as well as remote 

One aspect of teaching as a side gig that is especially appealing to many physicians is the opportunity to teach remotely. Remote opportunities exist for most of the teaching side gigs covered below. For a few job types, telecommuting is the norm. For others, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for remote opportunities, but you’ll find them if you’re patient and search diligently. 

In fact, I expect that remote teaching jobs for physicians will become more readily available, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to rethink what truly makes in-personal gatherings necessary and to take a close look at how technology can help us accomplish our regular work remotely. 

Below are six types of income-generating teaching side gigs fitting for doctors, plus a couple types of opportunities to consider if extra income isn’t a must. 

1. Take an adjunct faculty or instructor position 

Teaching at a school of higher education is one of the most common ways for physicians to teach as a side hustle. This is as close as you can get to being in academic medicine without taking a full-time role or having a career as “an academic.” 

Adjunct professors have an academic appointment at a college or university but are non-tenure track faculty. This means that they’re generally not responsible for securing grant money, providing service to the university, or other obligations of tenured-track faculty.  

This type of arrangement is provides schools with a lot of flexibility, as they can use adjunct faculty to expand course offerings without having to hire full-time faculty – and, along those same lines, can eliminate them easily if no longer needed. 

Though precise definitions vary by university, the term adjunct professor is equal or similar to adjunct lecturer, adjunct instructor, and sometimes other titles. 

Adjunct faculty take on the full gamut of responsibilities needed to run a course. This includes preparing lessons and assignments, lecturing, holding office hours, developing exams, and grading. Many opportunities exist to teach a single course during a semester, which is often the appropriate amount of work for a physician seeking a side hustle. Some adjunct instructors, though, teach two or more courses at once. 

Physicians wishing to teach in person can look for adjunct lecturer opportunities at local colleges. These positions often are not advertised. It’s often worth contacting the department you’d like to teach for to see if they’re in need of adjunct faculty. 

Remote opportunities for adjunct faculty are common, and are growing in number. These provide somewhat more flexibility to physicians who are teaching on the side along with a full-time job.  

A few schools that I’ve recently seen advertise for online part-time instructor roles on health and medical topics include: 

Physicians are not restricted to teaching in medical schools. Schools of pharmacy, public health, advanced nursing, and other health-related programs offer courses that are relevant for doctors to teach. Undergraduate programs often have health sciences and biology courses of interest to physicians, as well. 

2. Provide test prep instruction or write test prep materials 

I’m a huge fan of test prep as a side gig. 

Physicians can teach pre-med students, medical students, and others in a few different ways. This includes teaching in-person or online test prep courses for test prep companies such as Kaplan and The Princeton Review, as well as local schools running homegrown test prep programs. 

This type of teaching job also includes writing test prep materials (such as study materials) and practice questions. Though not directly teaching students, content development is necessary in order for teachers to teach and for their students to learn. 

3. Tutor students 

Conventional tutoring is a viable side gig for physicians who want to work with students one-on-one at their schools or in their homes. Physicians can often charge a premium compared to other tutors for science subjects. 

But tutoring isn’t limited to this conventional, one-on-one approach. Multiple platforms for online tutoring are available, as well as asynchronous tutoring activities that make a teaching gig even better option for a practicing physician. 

Study.com, for example, hires contractors to help individual students directly, write lessons, respond to student questions, and review subject materials. 

4. Develop CME courses and materials 

Some physicians may find the content of continuing education activities to be more closely aligned to their areas of expertise than the material taught as an adjunct lecturer or tutor. CME content is developed assuming that learners have a fairly advanced baseline knowledge of general medicine or a medical specialty. Physicians wanting to teach their peers are likely to enjoy CME development. 

CME courses and content are developed by several types of companies, including medical communications agencies, medical publishers, academic institutions, and professional societies. One of the best ways to get into CME development is as a freelance medical writer or consultant working for one of these types of organizations. 

Teaching CME doesn’t necessarily need to be done in a written format. Physicians can teach via live or recorded lecture, or even podcast. 

5. Write a textbook  

Textbooks, like CME, represent a way for physicians to teach as a side gig via creating content rather than presenting it to students.  

Academic publishers are always looking to expand and revise their offerings. Physicians with extensive knowledge on a subject may want to author a new book, lead the development of a new edition of an existing book, or contribute a chapter to a textbook with many authors. 

Writing a full textbook is a massive undertaking. A more reasonable gig for many doctors is to author a review book, pocket guide, or shorter text on a narrow topic. 

Though publishing a textbook can earn you some amount of income, it won’t fund your retirement. Royalties offered by publishers tend to be quite small. If, rather than royalties, you’re offered a set sum to author a manuscript, the amount is unlikely to be an adequate reflection of your expertise on the subject and the amount of time you spend writing. 

6. Create an online course or educational website 

After medical school, residency, perhaps fellowship, and years in practice, most physicians become subject matter experts on at least one disease, patient population, treatment, or other medical topic. This is the result of experience, passion, and constantly staying up-to-date on changes in the field. 

Physicians can use this subject matter expertise to teach others online via their own website or an educational platform such as Udemy. This teaching can be geared toward a medical professional audience, a patient audience, or any other audience that is fitting for the content you want to teach. 

While this type of side gig requires that you essentially run your own mini-business, it means that you have ultimate flexibility in that content that you teach, when and where you work, and what you charge. 

Looking for experience rather than money? 

Most teaching side hustles for physicians don’t pay tremendously well. Most people teach because they enjoy it and they want to help students learn and succeed. So, if income isn’t a main driver for you, it’s worth considering forgoing a paycheck altogether to follow your teaching passion. 

There are many ways to go about this. Below are a couple of ideas. 

Give lectures on health and medical topics 

Consider giving lectures or workshops on health and medical topics within your local community. Businesses and organizations that are likely to be interested in having a doctor give a talk to their members or customers include: 

  • Health advocacy groups 
  • Interest groups and clubs 
  • Retreat centers, spas, and resorts 
  • Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities 
  • Libraries 

If you’re motivated, you can even find your own audience through advertising and word of mouth. This type of teaching can double as publicity for your medical practice or other business that you own. 

Give talks to medical trainees on a voluntary basis 

Medical societies, residency programs, specialty groups, and other professional associations and societies frequently invite guest lecturers to teach their members on various topics of interest. This type of teaching is also a great opportunity for networking. 

Conclusion 

Teaching on the side is an excellent way for healthcare providers to help educate the next generation of doctors and instill an interest in the same topics that they’re passionate about.  

To get started in looking for part-time teaching jobs for physicians, check out the Look for Zebras job board

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