Can Nurses Have a Side Hustle?

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC - 07/29/19

In these first decades of the 21stcentury, having a “side hustle” has become increasingly popular, even among nurses and healthcare professionals. With the rise of the “gig economy”, countless people around the world earn extra income by driving for Uber or Lyft, renting out rooms on Airbnb, or any number of viable options. The development of the gig economy has launched many an entrepreneurial journey, and nurses are certainly part of that phenomenon.

According to the online version of the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the current definition of side hustle is work performed for income supplementary to one’s primary job,” and its use apparently began in the 1950’s.

So, if you’re a nurse who wants to explore a passion, earn extra money, or otherwise find professional fulfillment outside of your regular job, a side hustle may be a good route to investigate.

What Can Nurses Do on the Side?

I’m often asked just what nurses do to supplement or complement their career, and the honest answer is that the sky’s the limit. Side hustles come in all flavors, and some nurses grow their supplementary gigs to the point where they can actually choose to stop their regular nursing work and dive deeper into full-time entrepreneurship.

Some examples of nurse side hustles that nurses I know are engaged in include:

  • Freelance writer or blogger
  • Podcaster
  • YouTube personality
  • Artist
  • Filmmaker
  • Health, life, or career coach
  • Consultant
  • Ride share driver
  • Airbnb host
  • Social media consultant or influencer
  • Web designer
  • Social media consultant
  • Social media influencer
  • Motivational/keynote speaker
  • Private duty nurse
  • Private elder care manager
  • Massage therapist or bodyworker
  • Reiki or energy medicine practitioner
  • Yoga teacher

The list goes on, and there are numerous personal interests that can be translated into a satisfying (and potentially lucrative) side hustle.

 Why Have a Side Hustle?

For certain nurses, a side hustle is a way to stay attuned to one’s passions and interests. Nursing can be all-consuming, and having something exciting to focus on outside of your career can prevent work from eating up your entire life.

Some nurses develop side hustles with an eye to growing those gigs until working as a nurse becomes financially unnecessary. I personally followed this model by growing my business as a career coach, freelance writer, podcaster, consultant, and keynote speaker for seven years until I was ready to take the plunge and quit my job so that I could focus 100 percent on my entrepreneurial endeavors. That said, many side hustles remain just that for years, and that is an entirely legitimate way to pursue extracurricular passions.

Small or Big? 

A side hustle doesn’t need to consume a lot of time and attention; in fact, you can purposefully arrange for your side hustle to not overly distract from your other responsibilities, if that works best for you.

On the other hand, you may be keen to grow your side gig into a full-fledged business, a course of action that some nurses choose once they’re sure of their direction. As mentioned above, that growth can be as slow or fast as you’d like, taking into consideration that some businesses will take off more quickly than others. 

Need Guidance?

If you need help figuring out your side hustle journey, there are plenty of resources. There are several nurse entrepreneurs who focus on helping nurses grow businesses, and the National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA) is a very important resource, including their annual nurse entrepreneurship conference. SCORE, a national network of retired businesspeople who volunteer to help people like you, can be a great resource, as is your local Small Business Administration, Chamber of Commerce, and other local business-related organizations.

Camaraderie with like-minded colleagues can be a source of great support as you launch your side hustle, whether they’re nurses or not; however, talking to nurses with similar ambitions can definitely be helpful, inspiring, and point you towards success and away from pitfalls experienced by others.

Follow Your Bliss

There are any number of opportunities for pursuing a side hustle or entrepreneurial dream. There are also no rules, so how you approach this innovative path is entirely up to you. As mentioned above, there are plenty of people who’ve embarked on similar journeys before you, so seek out those from whom you can learn the most.

A side hustle isn’t for everyone, but it can be a rewarding exercise with the potential to leave you feeling empowered and energized about your passions, as well as earning some money on the side.

Go forth and see what you can create; the world is indeed your oyster.