Tag: side gig

How much income do you need to stick through your doctor job?

How much income do you need to stick through your doctor job?

Side income is the wave of the new generation. Having multiple income streams is sexy. If you are not bound by a single means to survive, then psychologically the stressors of a particular job may not affect you as much. In medicine it is becoming more popular to have additional income, passive or active, so that the goal of reaching financial freedom comes sooner.

The stress of your day job matters

Most doctors like what they do, but there are probably some aspects of our jobs that we would rather do without. Callbacks, charting, meetings, insurance denials, disgruntled patients, midnight calls…they’re all synonymous with our jobs but it’s truly not common that any of us actually likes the nitty gritty annoyances of the profession.

You might also like: Why a Roth IRA should be considered in every physician household

Medicine inherently is a stressful profession–many of our decisions and actions can determine life or death. In our society, there is a big emphasis on malpractice. The premiums on some medical professions range in the six figures–this certainly can add indirectly to the stress of the job.

Certainly how stressful your profession is and how much your tolerance level is will contribute to your desire to find a change.

How much control do you have in your job?

Even though the premise of medicine is to take care of patients, how a clinic or hospital is structured makes all the difference in the world with physician autonomy. Employment through a large hospital system or managed healthcare group often translates to standardized benefits and expectations (i.e. it would be difficult to reschedule a patient clinic in two days–some manager will hear about it and probably intervene). But you probably won’t have to directly deal with any logistics of letting go a low-performing staff member or most issues that a human resources department would be responsible for.
If you are a self-employed physician or a physician-owner of a medical practice, the onus falls on you to handle everything. Sure, you might have an office manager handling the dirty work but in the end you fit the bill, and you lose the sleep if things don’t function smoothly. Many physicians are okay with these responsibilities, and they want to have the control.

How much you make matters

There is more to life than money, but we all have a certain expectation of our worth that interplays with career satisfaction.
I once knew of an anesthesiologist who quit her academic position to develop a medical spa and infusion clinic empire. While I do not have exact numbers, but I suspect that the business likely produces a multiple seven-figure net income. I have no doubt that the business empire checks off many needs and desires: high income, satisfaction that you’ve created a wildly successful business, freedom to spend more time with family and friends, and simply a validated means of success.

Would she have chosen a different path if her academic clinical position was different? Let’s look through some hard numbers. An academic anesthesiologist might have a salary of $250,000-$300,000 working 55 hours a week. This would include uncompensated time to prepare lectures or administrative roles. Would she have started her business if she worked in private practice 40 hours a week earning $450,000? What about $450,000 working 32 hours a week? Or $800,000 working 35 hours a week?

It is a fascinating thought exercise to see how each person would react to a given scenario. Maybe she would have started her business anyway even if she made $1 million a year at her day job, but many of us would probably opt not to rock the boat if our clinical job gave us career satisfaction, a comfortable income, and time for family.

Our final choice also depends on our view on risk

Doctors, in general, are risk adverse. Some of you might be comfortable handling seven to eight figure+ commercial real estate, but the reality is that most people in the medical field want to make a good living and not get ripped off by the system. If you had your dream medical job, how likely would you opt to have additional income?

If your clinical job had tolerable hours, above what salary would you not consider another career path?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Do you want to get the latest Smart Money MD posts in you inbox?
Get the FREE Smart Money MD Financial Cheatsheet for signing up!
Doctors, side hustles, and your time

Doctors, side hustles, and your time

Thanks to the Internet, collaboration has never been so easy.  If you need to learn about how to install a new irrigation system in your lawn, the resources are a few clicks away.  You just need the time and motivation to make happen.  On the medicine front, there has never been a time in the recent past (aside from a failed managed care push in the 1990’s) that doctors have been as disgruntled.  Perhaps it’s due to the ease of communication, but I’ve never realized the momentum of doctors out there wanting to find their golden parachute outside of medicine.

Reasons why doctors are unhappy

The sky is the limit as to why doctors are becoming more pissed off at the healthcare system.  Some of the more common changes contributing to this mentality include:

  • Lumping doctors into the generic “provider” category.  We all saw it coming—allied health workers getting all lumped into a single category with the doctor.  While support staff is critical to the function of a medical practice or hospital, there are philosophical, practical, and safety issues with blurring the distinctions among all of the healthcare workers who touch the patient.  Something just doesn’t sit well when the call operator, IT guy, medical assistant, and scrub tech are all “providers” in the system.  
  • Increasing work that’s not related to direct patient care.  Yes, who actually likes doing online training modules on privacy acts? How about patient satisfaction improvement projects?  Or who likes to chart an extra two hours every day to finish documenting all of the diabetics in their clinic?  Some medical professions are also stuck going over labs that they’ve ordered and calling patients every evening after clinic.  This is where burnout happens—doing all of the things that didn’t require twelve years of medical training.
  • Ever-narrowing salary range among all healthcare workers.  Sure, doctors are still compensated near the top of the healthcare chain (right behind that of administration and C-suite folks), but it’s amazing how much the salary gap is narrowing between doctors and everyone else. We all understand that other healthcare workers are spending more for their rising cost of education, but anecdotal evidence tells me that it’s not that common for doctors to actually get raises over a career.  At the same time, physician extenders are being given more autonomy and compensated more (Sorry guys, I’m not throwing anyone under the bus. The problem is with our healthcare system).  Several of my colleagues have continually reported having stagnant wages while nearly doubling their clinical volumes over the past decade.

The emergence of the side gig

I’d imagine that the motivation to find a side gig partly stems from the broken healthcare system and the possibility of no longer relying on our day job to sustain a living.  Many of these side gigs stem from our pre-existing background in medicine; some of them are completely unrelated.  I know cardiologists who have ventured into the restaurant business, and a pediatrician who decided to open his coffee stand at a sporting stadium.  All of these ventures are time consuming and take energy away from their families.  It impresses me that some of these guys can do this despite having young families or jobs that eat up 65 hours a week.  

Many of these ventures turn out to be quite successful.  Some of these guys end up generating enough income to sustain their lives outside of clinical practice, which I assume is the hope for many doctors.  We really don’t hear about the ones that end up remaining as hobbies. 

Doctors shouldn’t have to find side gigs

Look, it doesn’t matter how you spin it. If you want to be the next Doctor Oz, that’s great. But if your goal during your entire working medical career in medicine is to find an out, something is wrong.  The problem could be you. The problem could be the system.  The problem could be you in the system, and maybe the side gig is your way out.
I have many colleagues who incessantly whine about how horrible their medical practice is.  Maybe the hospital is only giving them an extra $3/hr for working overnight shifts.  Maybe they are outspending their ability to earn from their day job.

Image courtesy of Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/rrssT6
Famous person or not?

Make sure your side gig has a purpose

Doctors need to have a purpose, whether it’s to come up with the next great product or to cure cancer.  If having a side gig allows you become a better doctor, then that by itself is enough of a reason to venture out. Just be sure that you’re not doing it simply because all of your coworkers are.