Because so many physicians pursue part time non clinical gigs, some of these projects can be very hard to attain, while others are practically wide open with opportunities.
Patient care is traditionally an all-encompassing vocation. Yet, doctors have been more and more interested in looking towards alternative sources of income. There is more than one reason physicians seek ancillary income, and typically it isn't just about money. Most doctors can earn more revenue through patient care by doing things such as beginning the clinic day earlier or staying later to see more patients, covering additional hospitals or moonlighting for a few shifts if the sole purpose of added work is financial.
The fact is that some MDs search for non-patient care projects as a way to earn additional income without taking on the risks associated with patient care. Others want to take a trial run in non clinical work while some want to see if they can 'make it' professionally outside of clinical medicine.
Because so many physicians pursue part time non clinical gigs, some of these projects can be very hard to attain, while others are practically wide open with opportunities. The following are the most popular ‘side jobs’ for physicians.
Speaking for a medical audience
Pharmaceutical companies are among the best resources for finding paid speaking engagements directed towards a medical audience. A number of physicians enjoy part time work as speakers for pharmaceutical companies. This generally entails some networking with senior level pharmaceutical representatives or with established physician speakers. Working as a pharmaceutical or biotech physician speaker can be a well-paid side gig for doctors and often requires some degree of concurrent patient care. Currently, physicians who are paid speakers must disclose paid affiliations due to the Sunshine Act.
Some doctors are able to get paid speaking engagements as guest lecturers in medical schools, as commencement speakers or as speakers at professional society meetings. These opportunities are generally accessible by invitation and invitations are usually extended to prominent physicians who have clinical expertise or research experience that most doctors would learn from.
Speaking for a public audience
Many doctors dream of speaking professionally for a non-medical audience. Physicians have a tremendous amount of knowledge, and for those who can translate that 'science talk' into an interesting presentation, it is not very difficult to get a spot on a program as a speaker.
Jumping to becoming a compensated speaker, however, is another story. There are enough doctors who are eager to speak at community events or on television or radio interviews without a fee, that it is rare for physicians to receive offers for paid appearances. Nevertheless, there are few doctors who earn a formidable income speaking for non-medical audiences in a public interest format. It takes tremendous dedication - not solely intelligence, charm, good looks or luck- to make that happen.
Writing is another highly desirable ancillary project for physicians. It is not as tough to obtain compensated writing projects as it is to find compensated speaking engagements, and writing can certainly offer a competitive reimbursement. However, physicians who earn a substantial compensation through writing projects need to be dedicated to the process by putting in a great deal of effort towards making connections and following through on assignments by providing trustworthy and readable content.
Interestingly, the direct sales industry is becoming a reality for many physicians in the United States. Doctors have made selling products in the medical setting and through social media a real source of supplementary income.
This is a type of work that requires a personality that can operate with a business mindset as well as relatively thick skin when it comes to withstanding rejection. However, many physicians have chosen to dive in full force and to embrace direct sales. Among the physicians I have interviewed, what I have observed is that the doctors who openly make direct sales a part of their professional identity tend to have the greatest success with these types of projects.
Medical device instruction
When physicians become instructors, teaching other physicians how to use medical equipment, this can yield a lucrative part time project. Physicians who find this type of work are generally good at networking, are often associated or on staff at prominent medical systems and are usually recognized by peers as highly skilled doctors. Working as a medical device demo expert requires travel, generally is not full time and usually requires maintaining a busy clinical practice to maintain credibility. Some conflict of interest issues generally need to be hammered out, and that process typically follows a standard procedure that does not require re-inventing the wheel.
Administration and teaching in medical school
Many doctors have part time work as medical school instructors, professors or administrators. Some medical schools have policies incorporating some degree of part time support for physician educators that uses an RVU equivalent for teaching time, although a number of medical schools consider clinical instruction as non-compensated, volunteer work.
Often, doctors who are looking for a non-clinical side income want to use their medical knowledge without incurring too much responsibility and definitely without exposure to medical malpractice risk. Chart review jobs lend themselves well to these criteria.
Applying for chart review jobs can yield immediate opportunities for as many hours as you want to work, and can sometimes lead to rejection or even no response at all. That is because companies that need qualified MDs for chart review may have enough doctors at any given time, or may suddenly land new business contracts and promptly need to hire more physicians. For an updated listing of chart review companies and openings, check back regularly on the nonclinicaldoctors.com useful links tab.
A large number of physicians across the country work as paid expert witnesses, providing opinion and testimony that supports the claim of either a patient suing a physician or supports the decision-making of the physician involved in a lawsuit. This type of work is paid, and there are many opportunities for physicians due to the number of lawsuits filed against doctors. This work often entails compensated travel, as some physicians do not want to be seen as undermining in-town peers. Physicians who want to work as expert witnesses are highly encouraged to maintain clinical appointments to avoid becoming out of date in clinical expertise.
Overall, non-clinical part time work for physicians does require a degree of dedication as well as some wise planning when it comes to making connections and learning new skills.