Being a physician is one of the most popular professions in the U.S. within the top one percent of earners. Of course, the industry has been undergoing quite a transformation in recent years: Baby Boomers are retiring, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) means more people now have health insurance, and branded hospital networks are on the rise.
The future of the medical profession is changing, so each year WalletHub ranks the best and worst states to practice medicine. The results of the 2017 survey may affect your physician recruitment strategy, but it’s all in how you view the data.
The study compared 14 key metrics and the data set ranges from average annual wage of physicians to hospitals per capita, to quality of public hospital systems. Per WalletHub, “The industry not only faces an aging population as well as new regulations, but it also must keep pace with technological breakthroughs and make sense of hospital reorganization and rebranding. With that in mind, we sought insight from medical professionals, business experts and public-policy researchers into the future of the medical profession.” We’ve listed the top ten best and worst states below. You can check out their panel as well as the questions they asked them here.
The top state is Iowa. With a total score of 68.67 percent, Iowa got the standing because of high average annual wages for physicians and the cheapest annual malpractice liability insurance. In contrast, New York came in last with a score of 28.49 percent, citing tough competition among physicians. It’s also among the states offering the lowest average yearly wage for physicians.
After Iowa, the best states for physicians are Minnesota (66.40 percent), Idaho (66.31 percent), Wisconsin (65.66 percent) and Kansas (65.15 percent). The other best states to practice medicine in are South Dakota in the tenth spot with 63.24 percent; Montana at 63.13 percent; Mississippi (62.40 percent); Alabama (61.05 percent) and Tennessee (59.56 percent).
The worst states for physicians? After New York, there’s the District of Columbia (33.72 percent), New Jersey (34.48 percent), Maryland (36.45 percent), Rhode Island (36.84 percent) and Massachusetts (37.85 percent).
It’s important to note that the data here is considered in terms of professional advantages for physicians – to help doctors make the most informed decisions regarding where to practice – not considerations like quality of healthcare available to patients in these states. The choice of where a doctor decides to live and work is a highly personal one, so physician recruiters should weigh a variety of factors that are unique to each physician and his/her loved ones.
A few things to consider: Younger doctors often decide to relocate based on quality-of-life considerations more than economic ones. While many Baby Boomers are retiring, many are working longer and reshaping what retirement looks like. Younger doctors look to areas that have great schools, while empty-nesters may seek out locations that offer cultural amenities and financial advantages. A candidate’s significant other can have a profound impact on where they move. A 2016 study published in JAMA found physicians with highly educated spouses were 38% less likely to work in rural underserved areas.
What’s more a lot of physicians chose to practice in the so-called “worst” states. Take Ohio, for example. It placed 39th in the best states to practice medicine on the list with its 44.61 percentage. The state is seeing problems in its health systems, specifically in recruiting physicians in specific specialties, yet doctors top Ohio’s top-paid state worker list. The Dayton Daily News reports that the average wait time to see a doctor there is three weeks on average – but that’s still about a week shorter than the average waiting period in many mid-sized metro areas, per a study from Merritt Hawkins, a Dallas-based physician-staffing firm that has been monitoring doctor’s office wait times since 2004. The average wait time between scheduling a routine appointment and seeing a physician in the Dayton area is 24.6 days, compared to an average of 32 days for all 15 metro areas of similar size.
Indeed, the states that are best for doctors aren’t necessarily the best for patients. What if practice locations were instead ranked by the fewest and the most numbers of uninsured patients? You end up with a very different ranking.
Here are the 10 best states for physicians according to WalletHub’s “Medical Environment” & “Opportunity and Competition Rank”:
6. South Dakota
Here are the 10 worst states for physicians according to WalletHub’s “Medical Environment” & “Opportunity and Competition Rank”:
1. New York
2. District of Columbia
3. New Jersey
5. Rhode Island
Are you offering the best opportunities and compensation to white-coated professionals? Doximity members can compare salaries using Doximity’s first-of-its-kind salary map for U.S. physicians, which shows the distribution of doctors’ pay across the country and finds some striking disparities. You can read more insights about physician salaries here. Physician recruiters can use Doximity Talent Finder to source great candidates for their opportunities. If you’re not using it, claim your free trial now.