Life and Career Coaching for NPs and PAs— The Secret to Preventing Clinical Burnout: Start a Side Hustle!

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J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2023;16(9 Suppl 2):S17–S18

by Kasey D’Amato PA-C, MPAP, Katie Plessinger, PA-C, and Danielle Spatholt, PA-C

Ms. D’Amato is President, Certified PA Consulting, in  Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Ms. Plessinger is a consultant with Certified PA Consulting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Ms. Spatholt is a consultant with Certified PA Consulting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

FUNDING: No funding was provided for this article.

DISCLOSURES: All authors are employees of Certified PA Consulting.


As we know, burnout has become all too commonplace in healthcare. This state of physical and emotional exhaustion and feeling of loss of control or lack of forward progress sends some providers running to escape clinical medicine. There is a solution to revitalize your career without giving up clinical medicine—finding a side hustle that excites you! 

Burnout is the result of chronic workplace stress and is defined as increasing exhaustion, negative feelings and cynicism, and decreased professional efficacy.1 Burnout happens when our personal and career values do not align with our employer’s business values. The most fulfilled nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) work with a coach or self-reflect to define their own values and seek out career opportunities that match their own values. 

The flexibility of the NP+PA career structure provides the perfect conditions to cultivate a side hustle. Additional income is not the only potential benefit of this endeavor; side hustles can increase fulfillment by allowing you to have control over a project. They can provide a sense of forward momentum and progress when you feel like you have hit a plateau. We see this phenomenon commonly in PAs and NPs who have reached the 5-to-10 year mark in their careers, as by that point they have achieved their maximum salary potential, mastered the diagnostic and technical skills in their specialty, and find themselves asking, “What else?” A side hustle can help you learn new skills in areas such as marketing, networking, and leadership. Proficiency in these areas will not only propel your new endeavor, it will also improve your clinical career by bringing new skills and understanding to your NP or PA role. 

Once you make the decision to launch a side hustle, you must determine which side hustle meets your needs and goals. A side hustle can provide you with flexibility, creative challenges, and increased income, but it will also require time and, in some circumstances, money to start. It is important to define which category of side hustle will fit into your lifestyle without negatively impacting your work/life balance. Reflecting on your skills, interests, passions, and personality can lead you to the perfect side hustle that will recharge your energy and excitement about work in general.

To determine which side hustle to pursue, the first step is self-reflection. The side hustle opportunities are endless! You want to choose one that will match your personality, lifestyle, and desired outcomes so that this endeavor is fulfilling and sustainable. For example, reflect on if you consider yourself introverted or extroverted, creative or analytical, or adventurous or cautious. Also, reflect on what unique skills you can bring to your side hustle experience. Consider your artistic talents, social skills, marketing skills, writing skills, and financial literacy. Finally, determine the amount of time you are willing to devote to this side hustle, as some side hustles mandate a certain time obligation. This side hustle should be complementary to your clinical career and personal goals and should not negatively impact your clinical career or personal life. 

After you perform self-reflection to determine what you are passionate about, next you should reflect on the skills you wish to develop. For example, if you want to develop marketing skills, consider taking on a role in affiliate marketing, direct sales, or pharmaceuticals. If you want to improve your legal literacy, take on a role as an expert witness. If you want to improve your communication and education skills, become an adjunct professor or conference speaker. An incredible part of medicine is that these skills can all be utilized in our profession. Medicine is a business, and we can contribute more to our business entity by improving our skills in areas outside of clinical medicine. 

Once you have an idea of what side hustle matches your personality, skills, and desires, you should connect with others that have walked a similar path. Just as you would network and seek advice when looking for a clinical role, you should do the same when starting a side hustle. Finding a mentor that does a similar hustle can provide you with great information on the potential benefits and pitfalls, including financial expense versus income, time investment, and opportunities for growth. By networking with others with similar interests, you can also generate leads and collaborate, which can be invaluable to your venture. 

Having a side hustle should provide growth, progress, excitement, and added fulfillment to your clinical career, and should not serve as an escape from an undesirable work situation. If your clinical role is truly miserable, you will need to address that and make some changes because a side hustle will not change a toxic clinical work environment. Before making a career change, you might want to consider a side hustle to help reignite the learning part of your brain!

Having helped thousands of PAs and NPs pursue a side hustle or make a career transition to a different practice, specialty, or even a nonclinical role over the past decade, we have found that PAs and NPs who find the right side hustle for their situation and personality can lead to much longer career fulfillment and much less burnout. 

If you find a side hustle that you are passionate about and cannot determine how to integrate with your current clinical role, you might want to consider a different clinical role that can support your side hustle. It is important to be sensitive about conflicts of interest and know how to foster a side hustle that is sustainable and enjoyable without causing any conflict with your employer or clinical career. Additionally, you should ensure there are no activity restrictions in your contract that would prohibit you from pursuing the side hustle. When helping our clients with their contract reviews, we often discover which types of side hustles are permitted or restricted by these terms. 

To learn more about discovering your perfect side hustle and putting it into action, visit Certified PA Consulting. Through on-demand programs and private coaching sessions, we assist NPs and PAs in having a more fulfilled career through side hustles. We can serve as your accountability partner in this endeavor, which is invaluable for success.

About us 

Certified PA Consulting was founded in 2009 by President Kasey D’Amato, PA-C, whose mission is helping PAs and NPs reach their career goals. We strive to help PAs and NPs feel fulfilled in their work and personal lives through our on-demand programs and private coaching sessions. Certified PA Consulting also provides life and career coaching for burn out and achieving meaningful work life balance, on-demand programs to improve financial literacy, and business consulting. We also offer a free video library with many topics important to professional development. You can view all our services at certifiedpaconsulting.com or email team@certifiedpaconsulting.com for more information.

Reference

  1. Maslach C, Leiter MP. Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World Psychiatry. 2016;15(2):103–111. 

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Letters to the Editor: June 2024
A Seven-week, Open-label Trial Evaluating the Safety and Efficacy of a Photopneumatic Device for Mitigating Mild-to-Moderate Acne in Healthy Adolescents and Young Adults
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