After years of training and hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, I finally figured out how to make money with my pants off.
As you may recall from What makes a good side hustle?, one of my criteria for a good side gig is that it can be done remotely from anywhere. That could be the beach, a family vacation or just sitting on my couch in gym shorts.
I’m glad to report I just received my first paycheck from my newest work-at-home side hustle.
What’s the job?
This is a physician advisor job like I discussed in If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em (and take their money). I review inpatient charts and recommend inpatient vs observation status based on severity of illness, time in the hospital and the available documentation.
There are established rules about what meets inpatient vs observation status, so I’m not reinventing the wheel. I simply look at a chart, sum up why they were admitted, what the plan of care is and write why I do or do not think they needed to be inpatient. It’s ironic that someone who has spent a career trying to convince hospitalists to admit patients (and occasionally sneaking a dump into the hospital) is now advising hospitalists about appropriate admissions.
What are the hours?
I work a minimum of 5 hours a week, with the ability to pick up extra time if available. Most days of the week there is an opportunity to pick up at least an hour of work. The rate limiting factor is my work schedule and my family. My wife is a stay at home mom so when I’m not in the ED I’m full-time dad. No amount of money is worth putting extra stress on my family. If I was single or my kids were all in school I could make money from my couch every day.
These reviews occur in real-time, while the patient is still in the hospital. This means I have to actually sit down, log on to their system, read charts and write reports in a 5 hour block. Not just sporadically in between Monk re-runs.
There is also a 1 hour monthly quality control meeting where we review and discuss difficult sample cases. We have quarterly online meetings with the CEO as well. These are all paid for and done remotely.
What does it pay?
$112 per hour. I also am in the process of signing with two other companies that pay $115 and $125 per hour.
This is certainly less money than I would make picking up locums shifts in another ED, but it does not involve disimpacting nursing home patients, coding heroin overdoses or telling someone they have cancer.
Did I mention I don’t have to wear pants?
5 hours per week x 52 weeks = 260 hours
1 hour monthly meeting x 12 months = 12 hours
1 hour quarterly meeting x 4 quarters = 4 hours
260 + 12 + 4 = 276 hours/year
$112/hour x 276 hours = $30,912 without wearing pants.
Going the distance
I’ll let you know in future posts how the job is going, but this certainly seems like a side hustle I’d like to keep long-term. It is guaranteed hours which means guaranteed income. The other chart review jobs I’ve been hired for are on an as needed basis. I don’t know what “as needed” means, but I know my mortgage company thinks “as needed” means every month like clockwork.
Hustling to the FInish line
I’m not financially independent yet, but I’m on FI autopilot. Like I discussed in How to hide $215,000 from the IRS, I use of every form of tax advantaged savings possible. I avoid debt like the plague, save the first $1,000 of every paycheck in a taxable account and invest the bulk of my year-end bonuses. My plan is to be financially independent by age 53 (the day my 1 year old starts college).
These side hustles accelerate financial independence because I’m not spending any of the money. I max out my solo 401k, pay self employment taxes and the rest goes into index funds and crowdfunded real estate.
I can foresee a time where I have enough saved that I no longer need to continue saving for retirement, and my side hustles provide enough cash flow to pay our bills. At that point I can work anywhere that has WiFi or cell phone reception.
This job gets my foot in the door of the “Physician Advisor” business. Not only will it legitimize me when I apply for similar jobs at other companies, but I will actually learn a new marketable skill.
If one day I want to apply to be certified in Health Care Quality and Management the hours I train and work will contribute to the 208 hours of active involvement requirement.
If I like the work I plan to pursue that certification next year. Sounds like the kind of fancy schmancy title that gets you more work without pants.
What do you think? Does this sound like a side hustle you would enjoy? Do you think I’m naive to think I can read chart after chart from the comfort of my couch? Leave comments and suggestions below.