Why You Should Have a Side Hustle As a Nurse

side hustles for nurses
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If you’re reading this, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re a nurse who is thinking about starting a side hustle.  Maybe you want to start a side hustle because you feel overworked and underpaid.  You might be sick of picking up extra shifts to earn more money and generally burned out from your career.  Or, on the flip side, you might be working at a hospital that continuously cancels you meaning you have little to no PTO and are worried about being able to make ends meet.  After all, there are two different sides of the spectrum when it comes to being a nurse – too busy.  Or not busy enough.

I’ve worked at hospitals on both ends of the spectrum.  Hospitals that are incredibly busy and pay nurses a hand and a foot to pick up extra.  And I’ve even worked at a hospital that couldn’t seem to get their census up meaning they would cancel 9+ nurses almost every shift.  In both instances, I concluded that it’s incredibly important to have a side hustle as a nurse.

Here’s why…


Why You Should Have a Side Hustle As a Nurse


Reason #1:  You Don’t Want to Be a Slave to the Hospital

It’s easy to become a slave to the hospital when your lively hood depends on it.  I’ve been there myself – working too many extra shifts because I can’t make ends meet.  When the hospital called, I answered, canceling all plans and rushing to work for a *little bit* of extra pay.  Which brings me to my first reason for having a side hustle as a nurse – you do NOT want to be a slave to the hospital.


Reason #2:  You’re Canceled Often & Don’t Have/Don’t Want to Use Your PTO

When I was a new grad nurse, I worked at a hospital that canceled nurses left and right.  After only working for five months, I was canceled at least once a week due to low census.  Because I didn’t have much PTO I was forced to fill in anywhere in the hospital at the drop of a hat.  The ICU needed a sitter?  I was there.  Being single, I only had my income to rely on and I could barely pay my bills.  It was then that I decided to begin travel nursing so that I wasn’t so reliant on the hospital.

Some people may not be able to resort to travel nursing for a pay increase.  This makes another good point for my case – you need a side hustle if you’re low on money, low on PTO, and work at a hospital that tends to cancel nurses often.


Reason #3:  Your Lifestyle is More Than What Your Salary Allows

Unfortunately, nursing can be a relatively underpaid profession.  As we advance in our careers and gain more experience (meaning we’re more valuable to the hospital), our pay raises are minimal and don’t reflect the enormous toll nursing can take on oneself.  Some people might be okay with their pay and don’t struggle to live paycheck to paycheck.  For others, however, you may want (or already live) a lifestyle that you simply can’t keep up with.  If this is the case you might be picking up shift after shift after shift just to afford a nice car, a nice bag, or a nice vacation.  Instead, I urge you to start a side hustle so that you have the flexibility to earn money outside of the hospital and you aren’t reliant on the hospital to pay your bills.


Reason #4:  Security

Generally speaking, nurses have great job security (unless you work at a hospital that cancels nurses often (see reason #2)).  However, COVID has taught me one thing – what is job security?  Since 2020, I find myself more nervous about job security than I’ve ever been before.  As a travel nurse, my contract got cut short due to COVID.  And now, as a staff nurse with COVID here, I find myself extra cautious of any soar throat, runny nose, etc making me much more likely to call in sick than before.  And as we all know, nurses who call off too many times risk getting written up and potentially fired.

In any job, it’s good to have a plan B for an extra layer of security.  As a nurse, let your plan B be your side hustle.


Reason #5:  Extra “Fun” Money

This goes without saying, but everyone could use a little extra “fun” money to have, well, fun!  I have two side hustles and in both instances, the money that I earn from those two jobs goes towards vacations, shopping, eating out, etc.  The money I earn from nursing pays my bills, while the other money is strictly for fun use.


What Are Good Side Hustles for Nurses?

If you’re thinking about starting a side hustle, you may be thinking, “What even is a good side hustle for a nurse to have?”.  First I would tell you, your side hustle doesn’t have to be nursing-related whatsoever.  It can be something completely random that doesn’t require your nursing brain at all.  Or you can piggyback off of being a nurse and have a side hustle in a field that is medical-related.  One of my side hustles has nothing to do with nursing (running my blog) and my other side hustle is still in medicine (being an operational specialist for a medical device company).



  • Something in the creative space – Start a blog, podcast, learn photography and sell your photos.  The opportunities are endless when you decide to just go for it!
  • Become a consultant for a company – A lot of my friends run their own business through Rodan & Fields, Beauty Counter, etc and make a good enough income to support their nursing salary.  Of course, don’t just do something because it brings in extra money, do it because you’re passionate about it!
  • Become a freelance writer – Write for any type of company that you’re passionate about.  While this takes a lot of work and skill to be able to write for major publications, it can pay off 10 fold!  I got paid to write for Fodor’s and it was one of the highlights of my career thus far.
  • Open an Etsy shop – Do you excel in anything unique?  Perhaps you like to make candles or you’re passionate about knitting – open an Etsy shop and see where it goes!
  • Teach English online – There are tons of opportunities for teaching English to non-English speaking people around the globe.  As long as you’re proficient in the English language and have basic knowledge of teaching (as nurses we all have a bit of teacher in us, don’t you agree?) you can start your side hustling earning money online from the comfort of your home.  Or really anywhere in the world!



  • Babysit – Families are always willing to pay premium dollars for a babysitter with a nursing background.
  • Get a per diem job – This could be at a hospital or even better a clinic that doesn’t have a night shift or weekend requirements.
  • Become a freelance nurse writer – Yes, this job is out there and exists!  Write for big blogs on all things nursing (to find a job like this, simply Google, “Nursing blogs that hire freelance writers” or something of the sort).  If you’re going to reach out to a company to write for them, make sure that you’re proficient in writing.  It might be tempting to just “go for it” (and you totally can), but a lot of people are reading what you’re putting on the internet and if a blog is going to be paying you to write for them, make sure that you can actually write.
  • Become a clinical specialist for a medical device company – Medical device companies are always looking for nurses to work per diem to help support their full-time sales reps.  Money is usually pretty good and if you find the right job, the hours can be pretty flexible too.


How to Start a Side Hustle

The key to running a successful side hustle is to do what you’re passionate about.  Something that is already a part of your everyday life that you can’t live without.  This way, your side hustle won’t feel like work and you’ll enjoy doing it.  I don’t recommend getting into anything just for the money as that can leave you feeling generally burned out, and the chance that your side hustle takes off right away and monetizes is rare.

When I decided to start a blog on all things travel and nursing, it fit perfectly into my life.  I was a nurse – who loved to travel!  I capitalized on both things, making sure that I was an expert in each field, honed in on my skills, and learned everything I needed to know about traveling, nursing, blogging, photography, social media, etc.  It wasn’t easy but I loved and still love every aspect of my side hustle so it doesn’t ever feel like “work”.



  • Network – It’s imperative to network when you’re starting a side hustle.  Start connecting with people on social media, talk about your side hustle when you meet new people, and try to make connections in any way you can.  Of course, I always say to be genuine never come off spammy, and never ask someone for something right off the bat.
  • Purchase courses – This was my biggest mistake when I started a blog.  I thought that I could do it all on my own when the reality was – I couldn’t!  I flailed around for two years before I purchased a course on blogging from Nomadic Matt.  I still cringe thinking about where I might be today if I had just let the experts help me from the start.  But hey, it’s all a part of the journey!
  • Get help – One person can’t do it all.  If there is something that you’re not good at, or maybe you just don’t like doing… hire someone to do it for you.  I recommend starting somewhere like Fiverr where you can find someone to do work for you, cheaply.
  • Don’t give up – Starting a side hustle is WORK.  But if it’s something that you’re passionate about, stick with it.  There will be hard days and easy days, days you want to quit, and days where you feel on top of the world.  Keep the big picture in mind and never sell out, sell short, or give up too quickly.  After all, the people who succeed are the people who failed the most and have stuck with it the longest.


Starting a side hustle is not easy work and not for the faint of heart.  Depending on what your side hustle is, it will likely take a while until you start earning money.  (It took me 3 years to make a penny on my blog!).  But if it’s something you’re passionate about, a side hustle can pay off immensely in the long run.  And if it’s something you’re on the fence about – I always say, you’d rather look back at your life 10 years from now and think, “Wow, I’m glad I tried that”.  Versus looking back and thinking, “I wonder what would’ve ever happened if I started my side hustle 10 years ago”.


If you liked this post, you might also be interested in:

How to Manage Your Money As a Travel Nurse

How I Save Money to Travel and Build a Hefty “Travel Savings” Each Year


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Kylee is a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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