Whether referred to as a side gig, side hustle, or side job, even physicians aren’t immune to the trend of earning extra money or pursuing a passion project or hobby outside of their primary occupation. This should come as no surprise, as according to a recent Zapier report, 34% of Americans already have a side gig, with an additional 24% planning to start one by the end of 2021.

In a July 2021 Medscape report, Physician Side Gigs – A Growing Trend as Physicians Seek Extra Income (2021), despite the trend predating the start of the 2020 pandemic, COVID-19-related income losses have inspired even more doctors to take up a side gig. The report summarizes the findings from the more than 2,500 US physicians who were asked about their side job, how much they were earning, and what they hoped to achieve by what some are referring to as the “new normal.”

Overall, 37% of respondents currently have a side gig, with a breakdown of 65% male and 33% female physicians. Unsurprisingly, a majority of these side gigs involve medical-related activities, such as medical consulting or acting as an expert witness.

Of the non-medical side gigs, real estate topped the responses at 21%, with investment-related activities at 19%, general advice or consulting at 12%, teaching at 11%, and writing at 8%.

One of the significant findings of the survey is that physicians who have had a side gig for at least a year have been involved with it for an average of 10 years. And despite an acknowledgement of significant time pressures and reduction in leisure time, an average of 16 hours per month are spent on the side gig.

Despite having higher-than-average income levels, the main goal for 48% of the physician respondents with side gigs is to earn extra money. There was nearly an even split among male (50%) and female (45%) respondents who said that earning extra money was the primary goal. Of these respondents, 45% indicated that COVID-19-related hardship led them to pursue the side gig.