For most people, doctors are abstractions, not real people. They are glamorous tv characters or aloof, ivory tower thinkers. As a physician, you have dedicated your life to your craft and the people you serve. You’re a hero, but you’re also a real person with human needs. A side gig may seem like an unworthy distraction from your true calling. But in the process of learning, serving, and expanding your knowledge and abilities, you’ve acquired skills and knowledge that have practical applications in a wide range of fields. You worked hard to earn it, and you have the ability to use it in a more expansive way to benefit you and your family.
Hippo Lending has helped thousands of doctors achieve their dreams, big and small, with unique funding opportunities catered specifically to those working in the healthcare industry. We’ve seen what doctors are capable of accomplishing in their limited spare time, and today we’re going to share some of that knowledge with you. Here are the five most important reasons why doctors should have a side gig.
Physicians are often considered high earners, and that’s true for most. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in 2021, the median annual income for physicians and surgeons was $208,000, much higher than the average household income of $83,000. That sounds great, right? But if you consider the substantial amount of debt med students rack up and the fact that most MD’s don’t fully enter the workforce until their mid-30s, then the lifetime earnings of most doctors aren’t quite what the general public would expect.
Add to that the fact that physicians are exposed to far more risks to their career, including malpractice suits, regulatory changes, and loss of income due to disability (to name a few ), and you become aware that being a physician isn’t as easy as it looks on tv. For this reason, a growing number of physicians have begun to explore additional sources of income.
“I think a lot of us learned in the course of the pandemic that our physician incomes aren’t as stable as we thought,” said Nisha Mehta, MD, founder of two online communities for doctors with side gigs, in a recent interview with Medscape. She adds, “the other thing, I think, is that today’s graduates are saddled with so much more debt than previous generations of physicians.”
This brings us to our next reason why doctors should have an additional source of income.
According to educationdata.org, the average student debt for medical graduates in 2022 is just over $200,000. Average monthly payments are $1,210, only slightly less than the median monthly home mortgage payment in the U.S. At current interest rates, a $200,000 student loan debt can double in ten years, and it takes five to seven years just to get through residency and/or fellowship. In total, physicians are paying up to $400,000 – $600,000 for their education.
So, when you are a doctor, time is literally money, and the more wisely you use your time, the sooner you can achieve financial independence.
Make More Money
In a profession that commonly demands 60 – 80 work hours a week, it may seem like a daunting task to pick up a job on the side. But for physicians, this is often easier done than said. For example, as a recent article by The White Coat Investor points out, the median hourly rate for an expert medical witness is $500, five times the average hourly pay for primary care physicians. As an expert witness, you make your own hours and only take the cases you want. And depending on your level of experience, specialization, and geographic location, you may be able to charge considerably more for your services.
Being an expert witness can be lucrative, but it also comes with challenges, namely how you perform on the bench. The opposing lawyer will not go easy on you, so knowledge, confidence, communication skills, and grace under pressure are absolute necessities for a successful expert witness.
A less stressful side hustle for doctors is working as a medical consultant for a business, hospital, or care center. There are many businesses and organizations in the healthcare industry that need an expert on staff to answer tough questions. You can join a company as an employee or start your own consulting company. Mehta, writing for KevinMD.com, says, “since most physicians are W-2 employees, they don’t get a lot of the tax benefits that small businesses or 1099 workers receive. Side gigs allow access to additional retirement plans and tax deductions.”
As a doctor you are an intelligent, highly motivated individual. You are also highly social. These personality traits sustained you through the long, grueling hours of medical school and residency, but they’re not so great when you’ve built up a thriving practice and “enjoy” a steady 9-5 schedule filled with short interactions with patients. After years of overcoming challenges, expanding your knowledge and building a career, everything slows down. Burnout is common at this stage. It’s easy to feel bored, or like you aren’t making a difference. The remedy? Shift that extra energy to exciting new projects.
Top of the list is public speaking engagements and writing books. Both of these have the advantage of utilizing the knowledge and skills you’ve built up over your career while offering the opportunity to take on new challenges. Both offer opportunities for financial gain as well. Speaking at CME conferences offers the chance to hone your speaking skills and network with colleagues, forging friendships that could lead to business opportunities down the road. Public speaking also provides the opportunity to see how your knowledge can make a difference to others.
Writing can be much more challenging than hitting the road as a public speaker, but it can also be much more rewarding. For one, authoring a book looks great on your CV or resume. Writing also encourages deeper study into aspects of your profession that you previously took for granted. And writing a book usually leads to speaking engagements down the road, so you get the benefits of public speaking in addition to those already mentioned.
Follow Your Passion
Encore careers are a well-established path for physicians to stay engaged post-retirement. These jobs are usually spun off from hobbies the individual never got enough time to fully enjoy during their working life, from writing books to education positions to starting a brewery. But if you are really passionate about something, why wait for retirement to pursue it? Besides introducing variety into one’s daily schedule and staving off burnout, side gigs based on passion projects offer some of the same financial benefits that investing or consulting do, albeit with a bit more risk – we recommend having someone who isn’t related to you try your cake before investing some of your nest egg into starting a bakery.
How Hippo Lending Can Help
Hippo Lending provides doctors with lending options others can’t. How? We understand a doctor’s income. Because we’ve been helping doctors achieve their dreams for so long, we’re familiar with the common challenges physicians face. But it also means we’re familiar with the financial strengths of the trade. We understand that doctors often have as much debt as they do potential. And that’s okay because we don’t just look at the numbers. We look at you, your plans, and your potential to achieve your goals with our help.
Hippo Lending uses a value-based business model that prioritizes helping healthcare professionals accomplish their life goals. Rather than a simple “yes or no” approval system, we take the time to review your loan request with you and discuss lending options that fit your needs without straining your wallet. And if we are unable to provide a loan, we will provide you with guidance on how to get one in the future.
Interested in learning more? Click here to see how it works!