Many of the PT blogs you will read about making extra income will be overtime grinds, extra PRN jobs, or some form of just doing more physical therapy. However, there are a select few of us that have to explore other options.
Burnout is constantly a topic of discussion in our profession, and even more prominent since the COVID-19 crisis. Our profession, like many others, is facing the crisis of the “Great Resignation”. In an analysis of their corporate quality index, Updoc media found that over 60% of clinicians stated they were ready to think about not only exiting their current job but the profession as a whole.
How do we as humans who spent 7+ years pursuing an education that allows us the unique opportunity to help others combat the feeling of being undervalued in the workplace? One could lean into those feelings and pursue other options for income while still keeping your full-time job as a therapist and pick up “side-hustles”.
Personally, I am one that is privy to the “side hustle” culture. I have a difficult time sitting still and am constantly looking to do more. However, recently I have found myself spread too thin, and to avoid the detriment to not only my mental and physical health, I decided to pursue more tactful “side-hustles”.
One year out of school, I found myself being challenged but not consistently fulfilled by my job as a physical therapist. Don’t get me wrong, my job is not one of the burnout heavy clinics where productivity and expectations blur the line between skilled clinicians and general laborer. My job pays well, and I enjoy working with the clients that I work with. That being said, I knew that if I started working PRN it would take a significant amount of money for me to feel compensated for doing MORE therapy.
This led to my first major “side-hustle” of bartending. In undergrad, I had worked at your typical college watering hole where 2 for 1 specials reigned supreme and if someone ordered a gin and tonic they were “classy”. I enjoyed the serving aspect of it and getting to converse with people without having to document how they felt and what we did during our interaction. While I had the lustful image in my head of a high-end cocktail bar, I had forgotten the time spent at 2am after a long shift changing kegs, mopping floors, and cleaning toilets.
I was a full-time clinician and part-time bartender for about 1 year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a time in my life that I thoroughly enjoyed and one day I could see myself going back to pouring drinks. However, when forced out from behind the bar in 2020, I realized that the life of working from 8-4:30 and then working a bar shift from 6-2am just wasn’t what I wanted anymore.
This allowed me the opportunity to pursue my second major side hustle of becoming a licensed real estate agent. Real estate has become more and more of a project in my self-development over the last 3 years as it is the largest creator of millionaires as compared to any other profession. From that statistic, I gathered the idea that if I wanted to retire before 65, real estate was going to have to be a part of my life.
Initially, we dipped our toe into the world of real estate investing by “house-hacking” where we had a tenant live with us for the better part of 18 months. By renting out a room, we drastically cut our costs which allowed us the opportunity to invest heavier. We were hooked on the idea that real estate would be a part of our lives. After studying for about 5 months after work, I sat for and passed my licensure exam and was officially a Realtor®.
While it is much more challenging to perform the duties of a Realtor® part-time than initially expected, I am now able to better leverage my time as the ticket prices are higher to play this game. Instead of feeling like $50 an hour was a good rate for a PRN physical therapist. I can now open doors at the rate of $50 a door, sometimes opening 4-5 doors in an hour if they are close together and the clients are decisive. This allows me the opportunity to not only learn my market, improve my network, but also a chance to gain a better understanding of what the buyers are looking for as we plan to eventually get rentals for true passive income.
When it comes down to it, if you are a therapist that loves what you do and feel that working overtime is the best way to leverage your skills to earn more money, then that is perfect for you and disregard this idea to expand your horizon. However, if you find yourself wanting a little more financial freedom, don’t be afraid to step outside of the box with your “side hustle”. There are many other ways to earn income leveraging your professional skills as well. I have been paid for copywriting, marketing, and various other tasks in the world of physical therapy that aren’t direct patient care.
If you are ever in doubt, remember the quote, “You can’t get to better without first getting through different”. Our field is filled with people looking to help others out so always feel free to reach out to myself or anyone else with your questions.
Dr. Trace McClintock is a licensed physical therapist practicing within the Department of Veterans Health and Administration. As a Health Professionals Scholarship Program recipient, his career has always been within the Veterans Affairs (VA) system. Through his first two years, Trace has practiced in inpatient acute care, skilled nursing, outpatient physical therapy and is currently working partial coverage on the COVID-19 unit. Also, Trace has recently received his Texas Real Estate license as he has a passion for continuing to serve others outside of clinic hours.
If you care to learn more about Dr. Trace McClintock please go check out his two podcasts, Ducklegs podcast and The Whiskey Docs podcast. You can also skim his personal blog as he reviews topics such as personal finance, pursuit of goals outside of clinic, and the application process of getting on with the Department of Veterans Affairs.