1. Increase creativity, capacity to problem solve.

“The young doctor should look about early for an avocation, a pastime, that will take him away from patients, pills, and potions … No one is really happy or safe without one.”

–Sir William Osler

As much as medicine is an all-consuming career, it is neither safe nor effective to let medicine consume us. We must not abandon the activities which remind us of who we are beyond Dr. so and so. Sir William Osler urges us to seek something outside of medicine to restore our humanity and recharge our minds so that we may return to bedside an even more empathetic and effective doc.

  1. Increase happiness.

Acts of kindness are proven by research studies to be a tremendous source of lasting, profound happiness. Contributing to the society in a role other than that of a doc not only refreshes us, but also provides an additional sources of happiness.

create opportunity

  1. Increase balance between control and flexibility.

Funny thing is many of us doctors have type A personality in the most anti-type A profession. We have high standards for our work and expect our surrounding and partners to reciprocate our work ethic and extensive considerations. When we don’t get that, we are discouraged and frustrated.

Additionally, our multi-stage, life-long training and certification process, has imposed on us a nomadic life style. Ask a premed, “Where are you going for med school?” “Anywhere that takes me.” Ask a MS4, “Where are you going for residency?” “Anywhere that takes me.” Ask a PGY resident, “Where are you going for fellowship?” “Anywhere that takes me.” Ask a PGY fellow, “Where are you going for a job?” “Anywhere that takes me.”

See a pattern?

Shortly, as much as we’d like to have control, we have less than 50% control over our professional and personal life, especially in our training years. We have no control over where we go, how many hours we work, and most importantly, we have no control over patient compliance, most of the time.

Having side gigs usually means turning a hobby turn into a job, where for once, You are the boss of you and your business.

Taking control once in a while, can be quite energizing.

  1. Increase efficiency.

“When you get tired of studying, take a break and go (fill in the blank with a house chore).” Wise Money Gourmet, Dr. Wise Money’s mom, used to say this a lot.

Early in my childhood, my mom has taught me that rotating between various tasks/jobs will increase my efficiency, allowing me to accomplish more house chores and perform better on my exams using less time. The more I do, the more time I find to do more.

She brainwashed me well with this self-fulfilling belief: Indeed, the more I do, the more efficiency I get.

This allowed me to be a single mother to a 3 year old, work 2 jobs, and manage top of my class in medical school.

I find myself much more efficient as a radiology resident/mother/tutor/blogger when I do all 4.

Otherwise, I just grow into my free time like people grow into their income (I term this the hedonic treadmill of time.) I accomplish less the more free time I have.

value time_quotesgramcom

  1. Increase cash flow.

“Don’t follow money, let it follow you” has always been my mantra.

I started tutoring pro Bono before I turned 10 as my teacher told me after school one day, “You are doing well in class, go ahead and help this and that struggling classmates.”

22 years and about 10,000 hours later, I’m now making $388/hr when I tutor.

I’m was not chasing after money when I first sat down next to my baffled and helpless classmate in our 3rd grade classroom. Money followed me as I follow my instincts on where I think I could serve those around me.

trained mind

5 Reasons Side Gigs Make Better Docs
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2 thoughts on “5 Reasons Side Gigs Make Better Docs

  • June 5, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Very much agree with what you wrote. Side gigs don’t have to be for pay, as long as you find something that gives you fulfillment and enjoyment. But I agree with you that sometimes when you get good at something, people will start trying to pay you for it. 🙂

    I had no idea you were a single mom! I thought you’re married – this makes what you’ve accomplished even more extraordinary!

    Small grammatical error at the start of the last paragraph “I’m was not chasing after money…”

    • June 5, 2016 at 9:05 am

      Thankfully, I am no longer a single mom. The first two years of medical school was very tough.


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