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Why clinicians are fueling gig economy growth

When it comes to work, 39% of physicians are engaged in more than the practice of medicine. According to Medscape’s 2023 Physician Side Gigs Report, this number is up from 37% in 2022, and only promises to increase. In addition to the incremental income offered by side gigs, many clinicians are attracted to gig economy work as a productive outlet for their expertise, outside what can often feel like the “all-encompassing” nature of clinical practice.

COVID, burnout, & shifting demands

This aligns with the “great resignation” seen in the sector both during and after COVID. Definitive Healthcare reported more than 145,000 healthcare providers left the industry from 2021 through 2022, with physicians accounting for over 70,000 (nearly 50%) of departures, followed by nurse practitioners with almost 35,000 exits.


Burnout is real. So real, in fact,  that it is now included as an occupational syndrome “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” on the World Health Organization’s International Disease Classification (ICD-11) list. From honest conversations about mental health at work to outspoken demands for flexibility, attitudes toward work are shifting, and organizations are adjusting to get ahead of a labor crisis.

Access to opportunities & expertise

The gig economy and organizations like Inlightened are disrupting traditional healthcare staffing models and collaboration. They’re democratizing access — to opportunities outside direct patient care for clinicians, and to qualified healthcare knowledge and expertise for industry. Our parent company,, surveyed 2,571 clinicians across a range of specialties and facility sizes. Their findings — compiled in The Future of Work: Redefining the Role of Physicians in the Gig Economy – pointed to an ever-growing list of opportunities physicians are pursuing outside clinical care, including technology, academia, entrepreneurship, coaching, and recruiting.

According to’s Chief Medical Resource Officer, Miechia Esco, MD, PhD, RPVI, FACS, “The gig economy as a whole is growing three times faster than the workforce as a whole and has generated $1.3 trillion in revenue. Just like everything else, the future of work is taking a new shape.” 

As innovators seek to drive responsible disruption in healthcare, they’re engaging clinicians and healthcare professionals to provide feedback, insights, and ultimately validation to propel their businesses forward. An external expert’s perspective helps uncover overlooked opportunities, and contributes to collaborative problem-solving and solution development. 

Similarly, clinicians can benefit dramatically from acquiring more business knowledge. Inlightened expert, orthopedic surgeon, and Senior Medical Director at Optum, Scott Tromanhauser, MD, MBA, MHCDS, offers, “‘Just treat[ing] patients’… is no longer a viable option and hasn’t been for a long time.” Citing unsustainable annual healthcare spending in excess of $4 trillion, “who better to lead efforts to lower those costs than we physicians and our fellow practitioners?”

Inlightened connects client companies to a vetted network of healthcare professionals providing on-demand consultation and expertise. Get Inlightened.