Pharmacists With a Side Hustle, Part 1

FEBRUARY 24, 2018
Recently, I have been hearing references to the term, 'side hustle.' According to Side Hustle Nation, a 'side hustle' is basically earning extra money, apart from your day job.

I decided to see what kind of side hustles pharmacists are doing and set out to interview some of them. Many female pharmacists I have heard from have an multi-level marketing business as their side hustle. Since there are so many of them and with varying degrees of success, I decided not to include these types of businesses in this article, but wanted to address that they are highly popular with pharmacists (examples include Rodan & Fields, Monat Hair Care, etc).

Because I found so many pharmacists out there with such fascinating side hustles, this will be a two-part article. So let’s get to it and meet the first pharmacists that are busy with both pharmacy and side hustles.

Larry Riggi, PharmD: Dr Riggi is a full time manager of a pharmacy chain. He has a wife and child, and does not want his side hustle to impose upon his family time. Therefore, he decided to drive for Uber and Lyft. He does this after hours while his family is sleeping, so he does not miss out on quality time. Dr Riggi lives near a college and there are always plenty of clientele who need rides. Often, he will turn on the Uber app on the way home from work and drive people in the direction he is going. He enjoys it, and all he needs is a clean car (cars also must have 4 doors, and be 2003 or newer) and a phone to use the app. Drivers can Uber/Lyft as little or as much as they want so it allows a lot of freedom. He meets people from all over the world and learns about their cultures. One of his best memories is driving someone who left a restaurant with a 'doggy bag' that smelled amazing, and he had to find out more about this restaurant. He says he had one of the best meals of his life because of Uber.

Heather Hnatkovich Kordish, PharmD: In addition to her pharmacy job, Dr Hnatkovich Kordish is a licensed Zumba instructor. She started taking classes with a friend 8 years ago when her daughter was born. She quickly fell in love with Zumba and started going to classes 3 or 4 times a week. Dr Hnatkovich Kordish’s instructor encouraged her to get a license in 2012, so she did. She has been teaching 2 or 3 Zumba classes a week since then. She explains that it is an amazing workout that doesn’t feel like exercise, and it is both a mental and physical outlet, perfect for pharmacists! Although it can be time consuming to learn new routines, it is so much fun that it never feels like a chore.

Ashley Gulyas, PharmD:  Dr Gulyas is the owner and creator of Academy & Apothecary Professional Resume Service, a resume and CV service for pharmacists. Instead of picking up extra shifts at the pharmacy, she is avoiding the pharmacist burnout and paying off her student loans with her own business. She worked for a recruiter in college, and her friends and family always asked her to help with their resumes, so she had the perfect background for this side hustle. She is currently building her business and working on her website.

Donna Sabz-Keissami, PharmD: Dr Sabz-Keissami is a children’s book author; her book is called Maddie Visits the Pharmacist. Dr Sabz-Keissami, who always dreamed of writing a book, was thrilled to publish this fun and educational children’s story. As she went through pharmacy school, she realized the education did not lend much opportunity for creativity. At the time, there were no other children’s books like this, and she saw a great opportunity to feature a pharmacist as the main character. She was also inspired by the thought of one day reading this book to her child, and now she reads it to her 5-year-old son, Dean, who loves it. Dr Sabz-Keissami says that writing this book is her greatest achievement in her pharmacy career and has brought so much joy to her heart. She loves seeing pictures of children reading her book, stories of children who took medicine easier because of the book, and having pharmacists read the book to students on career day!

Farhana Huda Islam, PharmD: Dr. Huda Islam is a homecooking instructor with over 10 years of experience cooking delicious meals for friends and family, who encouraged her to share her recipes and teach classes. Her facebook group is #binyskitchen, where she shares her adventures (& misadventures) in cooking as a full time working mom with 3 kids under age 7. Her mission is to show her students that it is possible to work full time and cook healthy meals. She wants to reclaim home cooking as a means for health, environmental sustainability, and longevity.

Dr. Huda Islam recently remodeled her kitchen and holds classes in her own home. She is always trying new recipes, and her favorites are comfort foods, such as chicken pot pie, and biscuits and gravy.

Courtney Ward, PharmD: Dr. Ward is a travel advisor specializing in Disney vacations for Be Our Guest Vacations, a top-tier Authorized Disney Travel Planning agency. She was already helping friends and family plan their Disney World and Disneyland trips. When Dr Ward was approached to join Be Our Guest Vacations, she thought it would just be a way to make a little money to help pay for her own trips, while doing what she was already doing.

Now she has a dream job and loves helping people plan their dream vacations —whether it be their first trip or their 100th, Dr Ward says that it is always a magical experience. She also explained that travel agents can help clients with as little or as much of the planning process as they want, while also helping the client save money.  Her planning services are free when a package is booked.

Lucie Donikian, PharmD, BCPS: It seems as if more and more pharmacists are getting into real estate as well as pharmacy. Dr Donikian is a hospital pharmacist and is pregnant with her fourth child. While balancing pharmacy and family life, she had to take a step back and work part time. Since her husband owns a mortgage brokerage, Get Approved Mortgages, Inc., Dr. Donikian decided to get her license and become a real estate broker for Charles Rutenberg Realty. She loved the idea of setting her own schedule around her family’s needs. Her husband is her coach and mentor. They work together, finding borrowers a home they love that also fits their financial needs.

Dr. Dondada still loves being a pharmacist and finds the two careers complement each other. She feels the personality characteristics of a pharmacist translate well into real estate and into building relationships with clients and business partners.

Kimberly Couch, PharmD: Not a side hustle, but an amazing project that Dr. Couch is working on is Project Linus, a national nonprofit that distributes handmade blankets to children in need. She started a local chapter with her son two years ago, when he was in 4th grade. Her son felt strongly about wanting to help children in their community, so Project Linus was a great fit.

Dr Couch and her son make handmade blankets and distribute them to local hospitals, shelters, sheriff’s offices, etc. They make all kinds of blankets, including fleece, quilts, crochet afghans, knitted blankets, and more. They hold 'Make a Blanket Day' where volunteers come together to make blankets. They also accept donations of materials to make blankets, as well as monetary donations. Dr Couch and her son have found the experience to be very rewarding and fun. If you would like to donate, visit the Project Linus website and put the name 'Kimberly Couch' in the chapter coordinator section.

I love how all these hard-working pharmacists find the time and motivation to pursue their dreams. There are so many interesting 'side hustles' that pharmacists can do successfully. Stay tuned for part 2, where we talk to an EMT, a pet artist, a pen designer, and more pharmacists with side hustles.

Do you have a side hustle? Email me at karenmichelleberger@gmail.com and tell me about it. 

Karen Berger, PharmD
Karen Berger, PharmD
Karen Berger, PharmD, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2001. She has worked in community pharmacies for over 16 years as a Pharmacist in Charge, staff, and floater pharmacist for a large chain. Currently, she is a pharmacist at an independent pharmacy in Northern NJ. She can be reached at karenmichelleberger@gmail.com
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