Passive Income Ideas for Doctors: The Ultimate List

We explore options on how to earn more by doing less with our list of passive income ideas for doctors seeking financial independence from clinical work.

I originally decided to write this article on passive income ideas for doctors, after realising trends amongst doctors over the years;

  • Money is one of the most important influential factors doctors consider in career change.
  • In order to make more money, doctors generally use more of their time despite this already being a limited resource (e.g. locuming).
  • Doctors claiming to earn passive income, aren’t really doing it passively.

As a doctor, are you particularly looking for ways to generate passive income meaning you do less, not more in your day to day to earn it?

Let’s face it – the cost of paying off student loans, funding endless membership exams and courses, general living and other important lifestyle factors have become quite considerable in relation to our income as doctors.

Many more of us are feeling quite stretched and stressed financially – already working at what feels like overcapacity as a doctor.

In supporting thousands of doctors at Medic Footprints over the years, we’ve discovered that most doctors simply feel that they can’t leave their jobs or careers because of.. yep, you guessed it.. money.

This invariably means they feel trapped, which leads to all sorts of mental health issues.

Unhappy doctors who are more likely to make mistakes at work? Not a great combination.

Passive Income – What is it?

There’s been quite a bit of discussion recently on alternative medical careers forums about what opportunities there are doctors seeking passive income.

It became quite apparent early on that not many doctors really knew what passive income actually is.

An easy definition to swallow is:

Earnings that require little or no effort to earn and maintain.

Wikipedia

The key here is little or no effort which most people (especially doctors) forget about.

Many, if not all forms of passive income require an upfront investment of time and/or money to get it all set up and running. You then may need some time to maintain it, however the rewards should vastly outweigh the time or money you’re putting into it.

Why even consider passive income ideas for doctors? Don’t doctors earn enough??

Passive income is great for improving your level of financial security.

If you were unable to work for whatever reason, what would you do for money?

The Doctors’ Charity – the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, saw an 18% increase in doctors receiving financial help in 2018-9; helping a total of 300 doctors.

There are many reasons why doctors may be unable to work or return to work; this could include illness, disability, suspension, needing to care for dependents, job loss, bankruptcy and more.

For some strange reason, historically society has encouraged us to rely largely on only one form of income – ie. one job.

If the money you earn from that job isn’t enough, the logic is that you would do one of the following:

  • request a higher salary
  • work more doing extra hours in your current job
  • get an additional job

The last 2 options, as we all know, are a one way ticket to burnout and other horrible horrible things. Requesting a higher salary could also lead to burnout if you end up taking on more responsibility in your role.

If you’re working as a doctor in the NHS, you usually get told what you earn according to your seniority (banding). Unless you’re starting a Consultant post, there’s usually no scope for negotiation.

In the private sector, there’s usually much more scope for negotiation.

In general, we’re rarely advised on how to better manage our money or reduce our expenses so we don’t actually need more money.

Yes, we’re encouraged to save, have a pension etc – but not really informed on the importance of having more than one form of income which doesn’t necessarily mean having more than one job.

What passive income ideas should doctors focus on?

As you can imagine, there are countless ways to generate passive income. However there are very few genuinely easy and straightforward ways to do so sustainably.

The decision you make on what passive income you pursue will depend on your knowledge, interests, time capacity, how creative you are and your financial goals.

What’s your reason for seeking passive income?

  • looking to earn a bit of extra cash for a holiday?
  • learn something new?
  • cover your debts?
  • save to buy something big?
  • wanting better financial security?
  • replace your income entirely so you could stop working altogether if you really wanted to?

Whatever the reason, it’s important to be aware of your big WHY so you choose your strategy carefully. You may need to try several things to reach your goals.

This is why I always advocate for investing in multiple revenue streams in the event one or several of them go wrong.

I recommend doctors who work full time, focus on passive income streams that satisfy the following criteria:

  1. Fits in with your lifestyle (NOT the other way round!)
  2. Once set up, takes up 0-10% of your time per week
  3. Not in direct conflict with any aspect of your clinical practice
  4. Does not require you to be registered with a medical regulatory body (e.g. GMC)
  5. Requires minimal to no outsourcing (e.g. regularly paying other people to do some of it unless this far outweighs the returns)
  6. You can comfortably monitor and manage from anywhere in the world
  7. Relies largely on automated management processes
  8. Digitally run

You may contest some of these points!

The rationale behind these is that I feel that for income to be truly passive, you need to be investing in something that is generally lower risk and is not dependent on you continuing to do clinical work.

So for those of you thinking of doing things like extra locum work, medico-legal work, consulting, medical lecturing, coaching or anything that requires you to geographically located in one place to earn money – think again!

Income is not truly passive if you have to rely on regularly doing the work to earn the money.

The even harsher truth here is that none of this stuff or skills will have been taught in medical school or as a postgrad.

Medical knowledge can help you, but it’s what you do with it that really counts.

List of Passive Income Ideas for Doctors

Below are a list of passive income ideas for doctors you could use to get started in generating income for yourself. Remember they will all likely take a good amount of time and effort to get set up and running.

However your future self will massively thank you for the rewards you will benefit from in the longer term.

Disclosure: If you choose to purchase some of the linked products on this page after clicking through, please note that Medic Footprints may also receive a portion of the sale at no extra cost to you. This helps us to continue running the site! For more information on this, please check our Disclosure Policy.

Property Investment

The most obvious and popular option out there. Property is great because you be as hands off or on as you want depending on your property strategy. Returns can vary and relies heavily on being able to analyse a good deal.

You can also make money from your own property by renting out your room or doing an Air BnB type arrangement when you’re away on holidays or placements.

Why not check out the article with prolific doctor property investor Dr. Lafina Diamandis

Investing in businesses

Businesses are generally high risk with potentially high returns. You can get involved in crowdfunding or buying stocks in a company (e.g. hand over your money and literally do nothing), or becoming a shareholder with little or some say in how the business is run.

Investing in stocks and shares

Similar to the above, you can be as hands. on and off as you want – but you do need knowledge, patience and an eagle eye!

For some basic information on how to get started with any form of investing, check out this article from Money Saving Expert.

In order to get started on a few trading platforms check out the following options recommended by doctors on online forums: Trading 212, Hargreaves and Landsdown, AJ Bell.

Peer to Peer Lending (P2P)

Be someone else’s bank by offering a loan in exchange for a return. You could very well organise a private arrangement with a trusted friend, relative or colleague (always get a written agreement).

Alternatively you could join one of the many P2P lending platforms, however make sure you read this article first before you do!

Affiliate Marketing

This is becoming an increasingly popular way to earn money through referrals. You recommend a product you’ve used and you get a cut if someone buys the product you recommended. Easy peasy eh?

It’s particularly common for websites (including ours), online stores, blogs and social media influencers to use this method to monetise their content.

Common referral programmes include Amazon Associates, eBay Partners, and Shopify.

Network Marketing

You earn from selling products on a multi-level marketing arrangement; ie. teams. The bigger and/or more successful your team, the more everyone wins and earns a cut of everyone’s success.

It continues to work extremely well for many large and established companies with doctors in particular subscribing to these – some earning enough on a regular basis to leave their medical jobs. Recent examples of companies doctors have joined include Arbonne and Forever Living.

However the industry has received a bad rap over time – mainly from those who don’t fully understand the concept viewing as largely unethical or from ex marketers who had negative experiences for various reasons.

Design and sell a course

Doctors have countless skills – in medicine and beyond. Spend a few days, hours or weeks designing an online course on a favourite topic of yours and upload them on to your own website, or one of the specialist course sites such as Coursera or Udemy.

You’d be surprised how many courses are extremely TIMELESS and can be sold for years and years requiring minimal updates. Whether the course value is £10 or £1000 per subscriber – make sure your course topic is in enough demand to generate the returns you want.

Setup an Online Shop

You can make some serious passive income by setting up an online shop. The key for your store is that the product has to be either digital (no shipping for you) or someone else’s product (e.g. affiliate marketing and no shipping for you).

All of the processes need to be automated however you may need to be available to deal with queries (or even outsource this element).

We know a doctor who claimed to earn a 6 figure annual income selling products internationally on his self-run website.

Write and publish a book

Most books generally aren’t the best money generators, however if done the right way and your topic is very popular / in high demand, you can earn a reasonable amount of cash for your time.

You must be prepared to spend a lot of time or invest in marketing your book (especially at the beginning). You may also want to self publish to retain a large proportion of the generated income.

Become a YouTuber

This is perhaps one of the least truly passive options.

It takes a lot of grit, tenacity and time to make money on YouTube. However once you generate a large following, you can leverage your influence by using Ads, direct sponsorship, You Tube Partnership and more. You may not need to continue putting in as much work as you did at the start.

Check out this vid from Junior Doctor Ali Abdaal who is very open about how much he makes in the NHS vs his other multiple revenue streams. This vid has had over 1 million views!

Sell your Intellectual Property or Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Have a great idea for .. anything? Specifically for doctors – medical device or service? Would someone be willing to pay for it? It’s not too uncommon and something work exploring if you’re creative.

Many businesses (and/or websites!) are designed solely to prove a concept (MVP), later being sold off for millions to larger companies in the sector. Not a bad exit strategy!

.. and yes… this could be an app. But remember, an app needs to have some kind of business model or value behind it. Ie. it could potentially make a lot of money, or has a massive user base creating high value (e.g. Whatsapp)

Use cashback programs

When you buy something through a cashback site or program, you get some of your money back. So essentially you bought it cheaper than what you paid for it.

You’re not technically earning money this way, but you could make some decent savings if you regularly use this in your strategy. Popular sites include TopCashBack and Quidco

Get a high interest paying savings account

What.. do these actually exist anymore??

Maybe not so much..?

I hope this article on Passive Income Ideas for Doctors helped you to wet your appetite for a few options for you to get started with.

If you have any more truly passive income ideas for doctors for this list, please don’t hesitate to send us a line at team@medicfootprints.org and we’ll consider adding it!

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Abeyna Bubbers-Jones

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