Side Gig or Entree?

Side Gig or Entree?

These days more and more doctors have a side hustle, whether it be a way to earn more money, recovering from a disability, disciplinary action, disqualification, disaster or divorce, or as a pathway to exiting clinical medicine altogether. There are many side gig possibilities.

If your idea is to do a side gig as a pathway to full time entrepreneurship, there is a downside. However, if you are considering it as a way to test the waters, there is considerable upside, but here are some things to know:

  1. Entrepreneurship is hard and, in most instances, your product, service or business will fail
  2. Depending on your stage of life, the risks to your assets, personal relationships and time can outweigh the benefits.
  3. Think twice before you tell someone to take your white coat and shove it.
  4. Be sure to ask this one most important question
  5. Be sure you are not compensating for some entrepreneurial psychopathology
  6. Female doctors burn out at a higher rate than males and cope with it differently. Be sure you are not bringing your baggage along on the next ride
  7. There are many ways to become a compensated connector
  8. Be sure you have an entrepreneurial mindset. The clinical mindset is different from the entrepreneurial mindset. Don't make these rookie mindset mistakes.
  9. You will need a risk management plan for legal risk, business risk, financial risk and career risk
  10. You will need to separate your business accounts from your personal ones and think through the process of establishing the most appropriate business entity to accomplish your mission.
  11. Unlike medicine, you don't get paid for effort. Eat what you kill has a very different meaning.
  12. You will need different knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies to add value and no one will teach you those things in medical school or residency.

Despite these warnings, some wind up being wannapreneurs. Of course, if you are one, you always fake it 'till you make it.

It's up to you whether your non-day jobs are a side dish or the entree. It just depends on your appetite.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs.

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  • Karl Watson

    I recommend to sign up for some online entrepreneurial courses to make a smooth transition.

  • Caleb Schwartz

    Wise words, thanks !

  • David Reynolds

    It's difficult to build an entrepreneurial mindset.

  • Steve Dunbar

    Good article

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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