If you're like most medical school students, you are tight on funds. You have a giant pile of student loan debt, limited time to do anything besides work and study, and yet need to pay for life in an economy of steadily rising prices. What to do?
Few part-time jobs are likely to accommodate your hectic schedule. So, what's the solution to your financial woes? A side hustle. The evolution of the U.S. economy has created ample opportunities to earn cash that don't lock you into strict hours or require upfront investment. Here are seven practical ideas for medical school students who would like to earn some money without interfering with their studies.
It may sound cliche to drive for Uber or Lyft these days, but it truly is one of the more flexible jobs out there that requires no training and you'll be your own boss. To drive for a ride share company, all you'll need is:
- A driver’s license
- Valid insurance
- A clean driving record
- No criminal history
- A four-door vehicle that is clean enough and runs well enough to provide a comfortable ride
You can work as much or as little as you choose. You can also choose your hours, though to make the most money you will want to be available during the busiest times in your area. Uber reports that their drivers take home $25 per hour. Meanwhile, Lyft claims that drivers can earn as much as $35 per hour. To be clear, this largely depends on where you live. Another benefit? Interacting with passengers is a great time to brush up on the people skills you need to deal with patients.
Do you have a spare room in your apartment? What about a house you can rent for a night or several days at a time? Both present opportunities to make extra money by becoming an Airbnb host. It’s simple to post your room or home for rent. Just list the space on Airbnb’s website for free. You will have full control of:
- House rules
- How you interact with guests
To keep you, your home, and your belongings safe, Airbnb covers every booking with $1 million in property damage protection and another $1 million in insurance against accidents.
Social media for doctors is no joke, thanks to covid. There are many practicing physicians with social media followings in the hundreds of thousands. That is "influencer" level and you could do it, too! An influencer is a person with a large online following who gets paid by companies to promote their products or services in their social media posts. More and more medical school students are moonlighting as influencers because their medical training gives them credibility with social media followers. Some promote health and fitness products. Those who are studying dermatology can get paid to post about skin care products. Other influencers have sponsored content for more general products and services, such as:
To become an influencer, you need a large following that attracts potential advertisers. You also need a niche subject that you can regularly post about. To grow your audience, you need to post compelling content on a regular basis. You will also typically need to be active on two to four social media platforms.
Investing for doctors is difficult because medical professionals are experts in human anatomy, not the stock market. You spent years studying your trade so throwing money into an asset class you have no prior knowledge or expertise in is daunting. That said, to financially plan as a physician is going to require you open up to the idea of investing. And a good baby step would be spare-change investing. Spare-change investing is a way to save money on all of your transactions. You simply save the difference between your transaction amount and the next whole dollar amount.
For example, if you buy something with a total cost of $5.25, you would save and invest the 75 cents in “spare change.”
There are a number of mobile apps that help you do this automatically. One example is Acorns, which invests your spare change in $5 increments in one of five investment portfolios that range from aggressive to conservative. The investments have varying mixes of equity and bond exchange-traded funds.
Most medical schools have a number of research projects going on, so finding an opportunity shouldn’t be difficult. In addition to earning needed money, you will be boosting your career by gaining meaningful research experience. However, competition for these positions can become quite intense. If you are unable land one of these spots, this next option is great back-up plan.
As a medical school student, you have a lot of science and math knowledge. Put that experience to good use by helping middle school, high school and even undergraduate college students in those subjects. Depending on your location, you can make between $40 to $100 per hour. You can affordably promote your services by posting flyers at:
- Local schools
- Community centers
- Coffee shops
You should also consider setting up a website that provides your credentials, hourly rate and contact information. Use social media and online tutoring directories to also promote your services online.
Before you are legally capable of saving lives by practicing medicine, you can contribute to the cause by donating plasma. What’s more you can earn between $20 and $70 a week. Private centers typically allow you to donate twice in a calendar week with at least one day between donations. While this may feel like a last resort, the simple fact of the matter is that it's a relatively quick, easy, and consistent way to make a little extra cash.
(As long as you're ok with needles.)
Nowadays, babysitting and bartending aren't the only ways to make a little cash on the side. Thanks to the evolution of the U.S. economy, medical school students have a variety of flexible opportunity at their disposal in 2021, such as:
- Driving for Uber and/or Lyft.
- Hosting visitors through AirBnB.
- Promoting products as an influencer.
- Setting up spare-change investing.
- Becoming a research assistant.
- Becoming a tutor.
- Donating plasma.
Now there's only one question left to answer: Which is the best side hustle for you?
Jack is a Creighton University graduate and former advertising creative who has written extensively about topics in personal finance, employee benefits, and technology. You can find Jack's writing on Calendar.com, StartupNation, and Muck Rack.