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Welcome to another installment of the X-ray Beam series.
I am really happy to corner this particular physician blogger and pry him away from his side hustles so that he could don a patient gown and lie underneath the X-ray beam.
Side Hustle Scrubs has a personality that shines off the pages when you read his blog (if you have not visited his site, you need to do yourself a favor and check it out right now. Go on, I’ll wait).
I consider myself a bit of a comedian and rank humor as one of my strongest personality traits, but I think I met my match with SHS.
A few of his posts have literally made me laugh out loud (the Dr. Seuss one was one of the all-time most creative posts I have read from a physician blog (link below)).
So without further ado, Side Hustle Scrubs, the spotlight is now on you:
If you can please give a brief introduction of yourself (age, medical specialty, years of medical practice).
Hi! I’m Side Hustle Scrubs.
I’m a 36-year-old board certified emergency physician who has been in practice for 7 years on the East Coast.
I work full-time in a community hospital ED, but enjoy exploring lucrative side jobs that use different parts of my brain.
The trend of side hustles among physicians is starting to gain a large following. Side Hustle Scrubs was therefore a great choice for a website. What were some of the other names you considered before going with this one?
As a long-term reader of physician blogs, I knew I wanted a name that was unique, alliterative and quickly summed up what the blog was about.
I never really gave other names much thought.
White Coat Workaholic doesn’t have the same ring to it (and I haven’t owned a white coat since residency).
Speaking of our profession in medicine, when did you know you wanted to become a doctor? Were there any influential people or events that made you embark on this career path?
I showed up to college as an aimless psychology major.
During freshman orientation my girlfriend went to a pre-med interest meeting.
I tagged along and the pre-med classes sounded more interesting than what I had signed up for.
Yada yada yada……I code people for a living now.
What were some of the deciding factors that led into choosing the medical specialty of emergency medicine? Were there any other specialties that you considered?
I loved the first week of every rotation.
Your first appy is exciting.
Your first delivery is amazing.
By the fourth week of every rotation I started looking around and thinking “there’s no way I can spend my life doing this.”
I started to fear that I didn’t fit in anywhere.
Then I walked in to my first ER shift.
Classic rock was blaring.
I was surrounded by chaos.
A sea of humanity had spilled out of the rooms and into the hallways.
I loved every minute of it.
It was the only rotation I wasn’t bored of by the end.
If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same medical profession/specialty?
I am 100% certain that I have found my calling.
There is nothing else that even comes in a close second place.
If you were not a physician, what alternative career would you have gone into?
I love comedy writing, particularly dark satire.
There was a time in my life I dreamt of being a comedy writer, but ultimately I decided I’d rather be a funny doctor than a writer who likes science.
As mentioned previously, there has been a growing movement in medicine for doctors to explore side hustles. What do you think are some of the driving forces behind this?
I can think of at least 10 types of side hustlers, but the one common denominator is they realize their time is valuable.
New grads are coming out with more and more debt.
The slow death of private practice means more and more physicians have an employee mentality.
They see this as a job, rather than a calling.
Inevitably these docs look around and realize if they have to punch a clock, they might as well find the most lucrative clock around.
When was your “aha” moment that you realized side hustles would be beneficial in your life?
I grew up in a house where money was always tight.
I knew that when I grew up I never wanted to have to worry about paying bills.
At age 13 I started a lawn mowing business and was making $1000 a month.
I never looked back.
What are some of the potential downsides of a side hustle and what measures have you taken to avoid them?
Once you learn to spot side hustles, you can’t stop seeing them.
They’re everywhere you go.
People will actually call you and beg you to let them give you their money.
Although it’s a great problem to have, it’s hard to shut the tap off.
I’ve neglected to get enough sleep, exercise and downtime.
My goal for 2019 is find a better work/life balance and do a better job of saying no.
Have you personally fallen trap to any of the typical mistakes physicians make, and if so can you name some of your biggest ones?
The only trap I fell into was buying a big dumb house.
At age 30 I thought a family of 3 needed a 5,500 square foot house with more toilets than butts to sit on them.
I did put 20% down and can afford the mortgage, but I don’t know what I was thinking.
In the next year we plan on selling this monstrosity and buying a smaller house closer to the beach.
If you had a time machine and could go back to any point in time and change just one thing, what would it be?
I’ve seen Back to the Future too many times.
I’m not messing with the space-time continuum unless I’m sure I’m getting a hoverboard.
What inspired you to start a blog? Were there any surprises along the way? Do you have any advice to individuals who may be contemplating starting a blog of their own?
I started a blog because I couldn’t find what I was looking for.
Nisha Mehta has done amazing things with Physician Side Gigs.
Carrie Reynolds’ Hippocratic Hustle is both entertaining and educational.
I was looking for someone with my perspective – it’s OK to like working and making money.
Not everyone has to have the goal of retiring by 40.
It’s also OK to not take medicine too seriously and to poke fun at it.
I bet if I conducted an informal poll among all the physician blog readers, you would easily come in the top 3 with regards to humor (I would put Crispy Doc, Physician on FIRE and you in the top 3 in no particular order (hopefully I could break in the top 5)). Were you considered a class clown in school? Ever get in trouble because of it?
My superpower is being able to size people up and know what inappropriate things I can say and get away with.
That’s easier to do in person than on a blog.
I’m always the guy cracking jokes and pushing the envelope.
The key is you always have to be willing to make fun of yourself more than anyone else.
Humor is therapeutic and cathartic.
A little gallows humor goes a long way in the ED.
What is the biggest non-medical accomplishment you have achieved to date?
I’m most proud of being an involved father of 3.
Parenting is the hardest hustle of them all, and my wife and kids mean everything to me.
Aside from that, the only non-medical thing I’ve done with my life is my blog.
The fact that anyone takes the time to read my ramblings is still shocking to me. [Me too. Preaching to the choir.]
When did you develop an interest in personal finance and was there an event that brought personal finance to the forefront of your consciousness?
An old retired doc gave an “Intro to Personal Finance” lecture to my med school class my first year.
I went home that day and discovered Vanguard and Bogleheads.
I started reading the forums daily and discovered this random ER doc who was always posting.
He called himself the White Coat Investor.
The rest is history.
Complete the following sentence: I would consider the Side Hustle Scrub website to be a success when I achieve….
I do have short and long-term goals for the site.
I’d say it will be a success when the income from the website could replace the income from my side hustles.
Getting paid to create content would be a dream.
For a reader unfamiliar to your website, what are three posts you are most proud of that they can gain an insight about you and your philosophies?
A day in the life– I think this sums up my day job and why side jobs provide a nice change of pace.
How to hustle $30,000 without wearing pants– the hustle that launched a thousand ships. This was my first taste of making doctor money from my couch. Taking that job is what inspired me to create the website as a blueprint for other docs interested in doing the same.
Story Time– A fun financial take on some Dr Seuss classics. This was my favorite post to write. If you can’t enjoy this post, we probably can’t be friends.
Is there a book or books that has made a major impact in your financial well-being?
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing, John Bogle
All About Asset Allocation, Rick Ferri
The Four Pillars of Investing, William Bernstein
The White Coat Investor, Jim Dahle
Can you name 5 things that had the greatest financial impact on your life?
Growing up poor.
Marrying someone who grew up poor.
Showing up to that Intro to Personal Finance lecture in med school.
Picking a specialty that pays above average salary with below average time commitment.
Joining a democratic group with that incentivizes hard work.
Can you share with us a hidden talent that most people would be shocked to find out about you?
I don’t know if it’s shocking, since many ER docs share this superpower, but I can’t be grossed out.
I could disimpact your grandma and eat a turkey sandwich at the same time. [Challenge accepted!]
I’ve had every bodily fluid on me, often several at the same time.
I once got sprayed with the remnants of someone’s brain.
The part of me that processes grossness is dead.
You get to pick one person who is dead and one person who is currently alive to answer any questions you may have. Who would you choose and why?
In general I think it is dangerous to meet your heroes.
There is no way they could live up to your expectations, and I’d rather keep holding them in high regard.
Dead guy – Anthony Bourdain.
I’d thank him for all his writing as well as all the hours of on air entertainment he provided.
I’d ask him what he learned about people from all his travels.
I’d ask him if he enjoyed the journey or was he purely running away from the demons that ultimately caught up to him.
I hope he’s finally at peace.
Alive – Dave Chapelle.
Aside from being one of the funniest human beings on the planet, he is one of the few people I can think of who walked away from insane wealth and power at the height of his success.
I’d want to know what makes him laugh.
I’d also want to know how he decided he had achieved “enough”, and if years later he thinks he made the right decision.
The topic of physician burnout has been gaining momentum in social media. Have you experienced burnout in your medical career? What steps have you taken to minimize the chance of burnout?
I have a predictable 3 year cycle.
First I hustle too hard and vow to cut back after making tons of money.
Next I cut back and enjoy the extra downtime.
Eventually I start to get bored and stumble across some new money-making venture.
Rinse and repeat.
It has never made me dislike medicine, but I do start getting that numb zombie feeling when I work too much.
The only thing I’ve done to try to break this cycle is pay off debt and save most of the money so that I can afford to work less when I want to.
Do you have an annual retirement spending goal that you are aiming for? A target net worth?
My current annual expenses are $125,000.
I’m pretty conservative when it comes to money, so I wouldn’t consider early retirement with anything less than $5 million saved.
I’m on track to hit that goal before my youngest starts college.
Let us say you have hit your target number for financial independence. Would you a) continue to practice medicine the way you do now, b) continue to work but reduce clinical workload/eliminate certain components, or c) exit medicine completely regardless of age?
I genuinely enjoy Emergency Medicine.
When I hit FI I would still work at least one or two weekday day-shifts a week.
No nights, weekends or holidays.
Before I die I would like to have a consistent circadian rhythm.
What is your greatest fear, if any, you have for retirement, and are there any ways you are addressing that now?
I know myself pretty well and the one thing I’m sure of is that I can’t sit still.
I always need to have some new goal to work towards.
My greatest fear is that on the day I retire I’ll sleep in, drink my coffee, go the gym, take a nap and be bored by 2PM.
I want to spend more time developing hobbies and non-medical passions in my 30s and 40s so that I have something to fill the void left by medicine.
I’ve actually considered setting aside some play money that I would use to create a new business in retirement.
If not, I might end up as a Walmart greeter on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Thank you for taking the time to be placed under the X-ray Beam.
I wish you continued success with your blog and look forward to your next post that has me literally laughing out loud.
If you are interested in checking out previous individuals that were brave enough to expose themselves to the beams of the X-ray, please check them out here.
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