Non-Clinical Side Hustles (Part I)
Last Updated: 15 August 2018
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Best Non-Clinical Side Hustles for Clinicians
The “side hustle” has exploded in popularity in the mainstream media in recent years. Physicians and other clinicians who enter the workforce saddled with debt are taking notice.
Thanks to ride-sharing, house-sharing, and other segments of the ‘gig economy,’ it has never been easier to start what is really a new business.
However, it’s hard to justify driving for a car service when you could take on a locums gig. Depending on your experience in real estate, short or long term rentals might bring in some extra dollars. However, none of these is a true non-clinical side hustle, for several reasons.
It has always been common – if not even the norm – for healthcare providers to have a part-time job. Whether for money or pure joy, we are a group of workaholics.
We moonlight at the urgent care down the street, pick up an extra shift in the emergency department, or more recently, perform telemedicine consults.
Some might say that healthcare professionals are the original side-hustlers. But what if you want a way to increase your income that doesn’t involve seeing more patients and is cognitively stimulating and fulfilling?
Impossible, you say?
Whether for extra income, professional growth, or just to get some variety in your life, stick around. We’re laying out two non-clinical side hustles today to start our series on this topic.
Non-Clinical Side Hustles for Physicians, PAs, & Nurse Practitioners
Welcome to our series on non-clinical side hustles. In each article, we’ll discuss non-clinical side hustles that any clinician can start, regardless of the letters after your name.
Some are more lucrative than others, but the barriers to entry are surprisingly low for medical professionals.
Of course, thinking you can do them all may not be realistic. Therefore, finding one or two that fit your skills and schedule can have a powerful effect on your income and quality of life.
In this first post, we will cover teaching (but not in the way you think) and medical writing. Next, part II will explore public speaking and show you a convenient way to start earning from your anonymous opinions with paid medical survey panels.
Part III takes an in-depth look at entrepreneurship. You won’t want to miss the accompanying podcast that features a clinician who’s had multiple successful businesses.
Who knows – maybe one of these non-clinical side hustles could become a full-time career!
To begin, let’s get one thing clear. Yes, academia, even teaching medical education, is not clinical, but it’s not exactly a groundbreaking idea, either.
We’ve all fantasized about how nice it would be. Working regular hours, and only between nine and five. No more middle-of-the-night phone calls. No more involuntary overtime.
You can even start going by the nick name ‘professor’ to all your students (and friends and family). And if you really wanted to get into it, maybe you’d even wear a bow-tie to work.
It is a different world than clinical practice, to be sure. However, just like bedside healthcare is not for everyone, neither is full-time academics. That’s because you’ll need public speaking skills if you don’t want to bore your students to sleep. Additionally, you’ll need to learn how to design a good curriculum for adult learners.
Furthermore, remember how much work you were for your professors?
Imagine having to deal with that multiplied by the number of students you teach, and do that every day. So much for regular, nine to five hours.
So what can you do instead if you aren’t ready to take that plunge?
Part-Time Lecturing at a Health Professions University
Depending on where you live, the local university healthcare program is the preferred initial investigation. See what I did there?
Reach out to the programs in your area and determine if there is a need for a guest speaker or adjunct faculty with your expertise.
And don’t artificially limit yourself to your degree program.
As a clinician, you almost certainly have something valuable to share with our future colleagues of all disciplines.
Double that if you have specialty knowledge that can apply across the healthcare team. From postgraduate lectures to hands-on EMT courses, think outside the box.
But why stop there? Other – sometimes non-university-based trainees – are also in need of your skills. Your local technical courses, medical assistant programs, and other students of procedural disciplines need good teachers.
Think it through like any business opportunity. How much does the course cost to take, not including the books?
Multiply that by the number of potential students AND the number of classes per month you’d like to hold. Subtract the overhead you pay to become an instructor and potential franchisee fees.
There’s your formula to ensure your non-clinical side hustles return a reliable monthly income.
Admittedly, getting up in front of groups is just not appealing to everyone. If that’s you, consider one of these options below.
Teach on the Internet
Don’t neglect online marketplaces that allow you create your own classes from home and reap the rewards for years to come.
There are several of these out there that are happy to take a cut of your revenue from your courses in exchange for using their platform.
You can also find set-ups that allow you to create and host your own course for an affordable monthly rate instead of a percentage of your revenue.
The argument for these providers is that by decreasing direct competition, your course is more likely to become successful with your target audience.
It works best if you have an existing audience or if you are trying to build one. However, that is not a requirement by any means.
Online Medical Education
YouTube is also a popular destination for people to connect with others and share content with an audience. However, the internet is not the money machine some aspiring content creators think it is.
Many thoughtful and well-produced medical channels already exist, which makes building a new audience more challenging.
However, the barrier to entry is essentially zero. I’m no expert, but I’ve heard the key is to make great content that compels people to return.
Not ready to teach your own course yet? Consider boosting your own knowledge base with a self-paced course from a well-known university.
Coursera offers hundreds of affordable online courses in public speaking, medical writing, teaching, business, and anything else you can imagine.
Non-Clinical Side Hustle: Medical Writing
There is a lot more to this topic than we can cover here. For a more detailed look, read this. Below, we’ll discuss three options for turning medical writing into a non-clinical side hustle.
First, we’ll cover medical education. Next is a look at getting into the publishing industry.
The last part will teach you about an area that is truly under-utilized by clinicians but is highly influential: traditional media opportunities.
Continuing Medical Education
Someone has to create, edit, and produce all the medical content we so voraciously consume. Clinicians have always demanded high-quality and especially relevant educational content.
Today, the current trend is also toward engaging and entertaining medical content. Finding contributors who can meet this need is incredibly difficult, even when searching a pool of otherwise talented clinicians.
Therefore, content-driven companies need a healthy budget if they don’t want the final product to be a financial flop.
Just like our medical services collect a premium, our non-clinical services are just as valuable, if not more so.
On the consumer side, there are myriad opportunities for clinicians who have an inner medical writer they are hoping to nurture.
If you are a science fiction fan, you might enjoy this new novel written by a PA. It tells the story of a neurosurgeon, a neurosurgical PA, and how the corporate and ethical struggles we all face in real life can affect anyone.
Writing your own book can be rewarding, but it’s not easy. This is especially true when it comes to publishing it.
To learn the basics of publishing, take a look at this book.
“Medical writing” is generally called “health writing” when it’s directed to a lay audience. Because just about anyone can be a health writer, there are some important things to know before diving in.
Not every outlet that will accept your writing is worth your time, energy, or reputation to work with. Think about it like this. How many articles written by a “health writer” smell fishy from a mile away?
Of course, there are plenty of good health writers and platforms out there. Even so, health writing would only benefit from an increase in thoughtful, intelligent clinicians sitting at the editorial helm.
A good (non-clinician) health writer or journalist will find one or more expert sources for their story, in addition to other reputable resources. In a similar vein, a good source will speak to the topics they know and avoid the ones they don’t.
In fact, journalists are asking for our help more often than we realize. So if you can communicate coherently and don’t mind the publicity, you might be the public’s next medical darling.
If you want to help a reporter out and look like a rock star in the process, sign up for HARO (help a reporter out).
How to Start Your Medical Writing Side Hustle
Getting started is the hardest part. But by getting here, you’ve already taken the first step. A good old-fashioned Google search can get you even further.
A thirty-dollar course (get it for $10 here) will almost immediately pay for itself.
Another step is to ask your colleagues about their experience if they have been published in ways that interest you.
You can even ask me if you like. There are so many opportunities out there that you are bound to run into something good if you are persistent.
SEAK is a well-known promoter of non-clinical opportunities, including medical writing. They have a comprehensive book about non-clinical careers available now.
Like your clinical work, evaluate every opportunity carefully. Plenty of companies are willing to pick up any writer who just asks nicely and will turn over their copyright.
The problem is that not all content is created equally. Some shady players count on hiring the cheapest person possible to crank out half-baked content.
This is the GIGO rule incarnate. Garbage in = garbage out.
You don’t want to be on either side of that equation, especially if your name might be associated with the final product.
Where to Focus Your Medical Writing Skills
The good news is that there is no shortage of good companies in need of your expertise. You might start by looking for part-time or as needed opportunities.
Check your favorite websites, medical journals, online communities, or educational offerings for openings.
I’ve found one simple technique to be miles ahead of any other in terms of getting and keeping these clients.
First, determine your ideal client or company that with whom you’d like to write. On their website, search for the ‘contact’ page. For example, here is ours. Extra points if you can get the name of the boss.
Send an email briefly describing your background and interest in contributing. That’s it! Well, not really. But it’s a great place to start. Even better if you have a writing sample ready to go when they respond.
You might be surprised by just how many publishers are always looking for clinician help. All of the resources you use for CME need clinicians to create, edit, fact-check, peer-review, or plan the content. You may even be able to earn CME while creating CME!
Because you are a clinician, you have exclusive access to places that non-clinicians don’t.
Don’t forget about the general public. Sites like WebMD and About.com have armies of part-time clinician writers. They may, however, require more of a commitment from you should you choose to join them.
But if you are up for creating it, content that helps patients have more productive visits with their healthcare providers is worth its weight in gold.
Because the number of patients far outweighs the number clinicians in existence, this market dwarfs its clinical counterpart. This means exponentially more potential ‘customers’ who you can hope become paying customers.
However, the barrier to entry is lower, which leads to more people competing for a single position. Because of the theory of supply and demand, this increased competition may drive down individual contributors’ rates.
This is also where notorious ‘content mills’ live. As we have alluded, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for predatory behavior.
And whatever you do, don’t forget that you have unique medical expertise. That is worth a premium, and accept no less for your hard work.
Because if you don’t write it, somebody off the street who doesn’t have anywhere near your expertise or insight will. And that doesn’t help the client, the industry, or most of all, the patient.
How to Start Your Non-Clinical Career
For clinicians, writing and editing go hand-hand-in-hand with teaching. But for a unique and lucrative side hustle, the clinician who thinks outside the box gets the best results.
Thinking of giving it a shot but don’t like the idea of teaching or writing? For more ideas, read part II of the series where we explore the speaking circuit and ways to get paid for your opinion with medical market research surveys.
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Jordan G. Roberts, PA-C writes engaging, compelling medical education. His experience makes him a go-to consultant for companies of all sizes with a diverse clinical audience. He is a nationally recognized speaker, published scientific author, and medical podcaster. His goal is to deliver excellence in all facets of medical education.
Feel free to get in touch with Jordan to check the availability of his speaking schedule or to get more information on his consulting and editorial services.