3 Ways to Make Extra Money During Residency

July 8, 2022
Medical school is long and expensive, with little (if any) time to earn money. Residency may not come with much more free time, but still, it’s exciting to receive a paycheck for your work rather than pay tuition. Your resident salary, generally adjusted to your cost of living, should cover housing, food, and limited entertainment. If you do have a little extra time on your hands, you may be looking for additional income to pay your student loans, fund travel during your vacations, or explore your local surroundings. Here are a few ideas to make extra money in residency.

1. Look into moonlighting opportunities

It’s common to make extra money in residency with additional clinical work, such as overnight or weeknight hospital shifts. The specifics depend on where you work and your specialty. Moonlighting opportunities are most common for emergency medicine, pediatric, and surgical residencies at hospitals with a high volume of inpatient clinical care. These opportunities may be more limited for other specialties like dermatology, radiology, or pathology that do not involve as much inpatient training.

Moonlighting is essentially overtime work, so you won’t have to spend additional time for training and onboarding. You can also treat it as an opportunity to get more on-the-job experience (plus, bonus pay).

Keep in mind that the ACGME requirements limit how many hours and days you can work in a row. Above all, consider your well-being—you don’t get a lot of free time as a resident, so giving up too many days to moonlight eventually may lead to burnout. The bottom line is that moonlighting can be a great opportunity if your program allows it and if you have the time and energy, but make sure you don’t overextend yourself.

2. Become a research assistant

If you don’t have the opportunity to moonlight where you’re training, there are other ways to supplement your income. Academic centers often offer part-time research positions where you can spend a few hours on the weekend reviewing charts or organizing data.

A great advantage of a research job is that you can structure your work around your residency schedule. Plus, by participating in research, your contributions and name might be incorporated into publications. These jobs can be hard to find, so you may want to start by finding an email list that advertises open positions.

3. Consider working in medical education

Another option is teaching. You had to put in long hours studying to pass board exams to get to where you are now. Not only can you use all of this knowledge to help patients, but also students looking to succeed in medical school and secure a residency spot just like you did.

Teaching can take many different forms, including tutoring students one-on-one, teaching classes, writing questions for question banks, or developing educational materials for textbooks. You’re limited only by the amount of time you can commit and by the opportunities that are available to you.

This option also gives you scheduling flexibility to match how much work you take on with how busy you are with clinical responsibilities. The best aspect of working in medical education is the sense of pride that comes with knowing you are helping students achieve their goals and dreams.

Do only what you can

You should do only what you have the time and energy for. It can be easy to overextend yourself, but never forget that your primary goal in residency is to learn how to become a good physician. Everything else should be secondary. Make sure you take time for yourself, family, and friends, and then, if you’re able, take advantage of the many opportunities to make additional income.

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By Michael Stephens, MD

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