Why Side Hustles Kill Your Career, by Dr. David R Rice

In Impact by Dental Entrepreneur

Side hustles…they’re the latest shiny object on social media…and they will kill your career!

If your mom and dad were anything like mine, somewhere in your childhood you heard, ‘you can be anything you want’. Do you want to know what I love about that? As crazy as dental school is, you’re doing it!

Which begs the question: If that’s true, if you can be anything you want, why am I telling you that having a side hustle is a bad idea?

There’s a difference in you and I achieving anything…and you and I achieving everything at once. Think about what you’re learning in class. Think about the science behind it. Know there’s that level of science behind the power of one word that I want you to take from this piece:


Your ability to focus on one goal at a time will define how successful you become. Re-read that. Focus is about one goal at a time. That means, in life, you can absolutely have multiple goals. You can be wildly successful with each goal. You just need to know you’ll achieve those goals far better, and far faster, when they come sequentially rather than simultaneously.


Be honest. Fear of missing out is a major driver in chasing a side hustle. It’s easy for you and I to get caught up in what other people are doing. It’s especially easy to scroll on IG or in a FB group and believe someone is crushing it with something–anything–outside of clinical dentistry. Take a breath. Observe for a  little while. Then ask yourself. Are they really crushing it, or are you just as or more successful at keeping your eye on the prize?

Next, do a little homework outside of dentistry. Google the most successful people in history. Research how they began rather than the snapshot once they achieved success. What you’ll consistently find is consistency. They dug deep in one lane. They assembled 10,000 hours as Malcolm Gladwell wrote. Picasso painted. Shakespeare wrote. Legends learned to shut out distractions and master.


Everything above is nice to know. Making it happen is need-to-know. So if I were having this conversation with my younger self, here are the 4 MUST DOs I wish I’d known.

If you want to be a clinical dentist:

1. Prioritize it. I know you have to do the dental school thing by day. Do it well. Tuck your phone away. Trying to capture the perfect pic for a free set of scrubs isn’t worth it. Seriously…you’re making someone else millions of dollars for a set of scrubs.

Use your down time to recharge. Do things you love to do. Sleep!

2.Go slow. The data literally shows 10,000 hours being the magic number for mastery. You don’t need to cram those hours into 4 years. Do what you need to do to graduate. Add 20 minutes/day on top to work on one specific skill that helps you.

3. Be consistent. Think McDonald’s. Although they don’t make the best burger (at all – lol), they sell over 50 million burgers a day. How? They don’t side hustle. They focus on a very short list of items they sell. Focus on being a little better tomorrow than you are today–every day–and you’ll win BIG!

 4. Say no thank you. Those 3 words will propel your success. What you think you need to say yes to today because no one will ask you tomorrow–I’ve done it a thousand times–it just isn’t true. People respect people who respect themselves. People respect people who are focused on what they want. Only say yes to actions that directly feed your goal.


As they say, there are exceptions to every rule. So if I’m you, knowing what I know, here goes:

1. Passion projects. You have downtime. Per number one above, this is a great time to do what you love. So if you love a side hustle as a passion project, if it fulfills you, and it does NOT derail your singular goal, do it.

2. Future goal. There’s a difference between achieving anything and achieving everything all at once. Remember that from earlier? If you see a second goal in your future; if you see that becoming your primary goal, make it a passion project today. Invest small amounts of time in it until…

You have the ability to turn it into your primary goal.

You have the structure, money, and team in place to make it your primary goal.

That’s actually why and how I started igniteDDS. I wanted better for you as a student and as a new dentist. It was a passion project I invested time in during my downtime ONLY. Every other moment had to be about my primary goal: my dental practice.

I took it slow. I stayed consistent. I learned to say ‘no thank you’ until I had the structure, the money, and the team to turn it into my primary focus.


1. If you’re going to dental school to be a dentist,  drop the side hustle and focus

2. If you’re going to dental school with a different dream, email me. I am happy to show you the wins, the work, and the structure to make it happen.

Till then…Together We Rise


David Rice, DDS, is on a mission to improve our profession by leading the next generation of dentists to grow successful lives and practices. The founder of igniteDDS, Dr. Rice speaks to over 35 dental schools and residency programs a year on practice building, team building, and wealth building. Dr. Rice is a private practitioner, educator, author, and mentor who connects students, young dentists and professionals from diverse dental-related businesses—fueling passion beyond the classroom.