How to make extra money as a resident physician

Feb 25, 2019

Your salary as a resident can be discouraging, especially with the number of hours you work. Having hefty student loans looming only makes it worse. But there are income-generating opportunities fitting for every type of resident. They come in a wide spectrum of formats and time-commitments to meet just about every scenario.

Figuring out how to make extra money as a resident physician doesn’t need to be an added source of stress in your life. Think broadly, cast a wide net, and keep an open mind about what work may be fitting for you at this point in your professional journey.

Here are some great options.

Teaching

You were a student for a long time. Now you can take advantage of that by teaching.

Teach test prep courses

This includes MCAT and other test preparation courses. Kaplan, The Princeton Review, and their competitors offer instructor positions that require as little as one evening or one weekend day per week. Some universities also offer test prep courses for which they hire temporary instructors.

Teach courses for health-related degree or certificate programs

EMT training programs, physician assistant programs, BLS/ACLS courses, and educational program can benefit from a physician’s expertise. Adjunct professor positions at local universities or schools with online learning allow instructors to teach a single course during a semester. Like test prep companies, time requirements can be quite minimal and can often be adjusted to fit your schedule.

Private tutoring

One-on-one tutoring for medical students and pre-meds is both flexible and lucrative. Amanda Liu of Dr. Wise Money charged a jaw-dropping $388 per hour for tutoring while in residency. If you find it difficult to market your services and find your own clients, consider working with a tutoring agency such as MedSchoolCoach, University Tutor, and Med School Tutor.

Writing

Writing was my side gig of choice when I was a resident. It can be done from home whenever it’s convenient for you – as long as you meet deadlines.

Medical writing and proofreading

Medical communications companies frequently hire freelance writers to develop various documents for pharmaceutical companies, such as training materials, needs assessments, and manuscripts. Continuing education providers hire freelancers to write content for CME modules.

Blogging and content writing

Consider starting your own blog if you have a topic that is of interest to you that others will want to read about. This isn’t lucrative toward the beginning; however, once you amass an audience, you can make some money through selling ads.

If you’re not interested in running your own blog, writing articles for other blogs and business websites can be flexible and profitable work. Find these jobs on sites like Upwork.

Publish and sell your own writing

You’ve probably taken a lot of notes over the course of your training. You can use your old documents on topics that interest you to develop high-quality study materials such as question banks and review books.

Clinical work

Clinical work is some of the most well-paid work for residents. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to find positions that will accommodate your schedule in residency. Moreover, you may not be able to bear the thought of seeing more patients after your long hours on residency rotations. But if you enjoy clinical work, it’s worth considering as a resident.

Traditional moonlighting

You have the best chance of being successful with moonlighting if you can do so within your own institution. This often involves taking weekend shifts admitting patients or being on call for a service.

Some programs work with their residents to make arrangements that benefit both parties. On the other hand, some programs have strict rules about the type and amount of moonlighting that their residents are allowed to do. So be sure to check your contract.

If there aren’t opportunities at your home hospital, check with other local and regional hospitals – especially those without residency programs. Look beyond traditional inpatient service work, as well. I had a colleague in residency who got paid to carry a pager for a transplant service. She rarely got called and, when she did, the medical decision-making was straightforward and low-stress.

Flexible outpatient clinical work

Urgent care centers are often looking for physicians to fill in for absent providers or to staff undesirable shifts such as weekends. Many don’t require board certification, so residents are great candidates. Doing home visits for managed care organizations is another viable option for residents, as is performing physical exams for insurance companies.

Telemedicine

Use of telemedicine is becoming commonplace. While companies vary in their requirements for physician credentialing, providing consults with a company that will accept residents is a very doable gig for a resident. The consults can usually be done on your own laptop or device, on your own schedule.

Short-term locums assignments

For residents willing to sacrifice a vacation to income-generation, short-term locums assignments are an option. Practices frequently need fill-in providers for a few days to a few weeks to cover for physicians who are out. You can find these through opportunities through locums agencies.

Coaching and counseling

Coaching is an excellent avenue for entrepreneurially-minded residents. Your background makes you well suited for many of the coaching services that people are looking for. Since you’re essentially running your own business as a coach, you can choose your own hours.

Health coaching

Health, fitness, or weight-loss coaching utilizes bits and pieces of your medical knowledge without requiring a license or board certification. Develop a program or process to use with clients, and you can charge by either the hour or as a flat fee for the whole program.

Life or career coaching

Life coaching can focus on a range of professional and personal issues. Residents can be a great resources for people in the healthcare field who want direction for their careers. There are various trainings and certifications that you can get, such as from the International Coach Federation. Some can be completed online, making them an option while in residency.

Medical school admissions counseling

As you probably know from personal experience, prospective medical students are willing to spend a lot of money to secure a spot in med school. Offering services to assist in the application and interview process can be a great money-maker for residents. Starting your own service is a possibility, though established companies such as Shemmassian Academic Consulting and ApplyUniv (note: you’ll need to translate the webpage) hire physicians for freelance jobs such as editing personal statements and conducting mock interviews.

Medical-related, but nonclinical work

Though it won’t earn you a typical doctor’s pay, various nonclinical jobs within the healthcare field are flexible enough that you can carve them into your schedule. You’ll continue to use your medical knowledge and gain relevant experience.

Medical scribe

Medical scribes are becoming quite popular in many practice settings. The work doesn’t pay well, but it’s not difficult, either.

Research and data jobs

Resident-friendly jobs in research include lab or clinical research assistant, clinical data abstractor, and medical records summarizer.

EMR training

Many hospitals hire companies to provide “at the elbow” support for practitioners during EMR implementations. You may need to use up a week of vacation for this work, but it tends to pay very well, with all expenses reimbursed. A couple options to look into are MedDocLive and emids.

Taking surveys

Taking surveys will only make you money intermittently, but it’s easy to do from the comfort of your own home or whenever you have a few minutes. Simply sign up for survey panels such as Brand Institute, SurveySquad, or Focus Point Global and pay attention to your inbox. Use time during your meal breaks, in between calls, or evenings off to complete them.

Use skills that are unrelated to medicine

The sharing- and gig-economy

App-based services make earning money in your free time easier than ever. These all take time and won’t make you rich, but they are great options for residents in need for some extra dough due to their flexibility and ease of entry.

Keep doing what you did before medical school

Residents who had a career prior to medical school often have the option of doing part-time work in their previous field. Consider contacting prior employers to see if they could use you as a consultant.

Take a low-stress, flexible part-time job

These may not pay much more than minimum wage; however, they won’t be mentally challenging so you can give your residency-brain a break.

  • Restaurant server or barista
  • Event work such as DJing or photography
  • Babysitting

Benefit financially from your young, healthy body

Donate plasma, sperm, or eggs. Or participate in healthy volunteer research studies.

Get crafty

For residents with hobbies such as art, crafting, or design, think about selling some of your work. Set up a store on Etsy or advertises on networks such as Instagram.

Sell stuff you already own

This won’t earn you money consistently, but can be a great way to get a quick chunk of cash while keeping your life organized.

  • Sell old textbooks
  • Use Ebay to sell items you don’t use anymore
  • If you love shopping, find deals and sell stuff at a profit.

I made a profit on my used wedding dress while I was in medical school. It required minimal effort on my part.

Be creative and use your time wisely, and your meager resident paycheck will no longer be such a downer.

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