Best and Worst Places to Practice: What Do Doctors Want?

Shelly Reese


May 18, 2015

In This Article

Looking for the Happiest Life

Where's the best place to practice medicine? That's a little like asking what's the best flavor of ice cream. It all depends on what you like.

But where can a doctor earn the greatest financial return for his or her labor, as well as enjoy a setting that has a lot of lifestyle benefits?

We analyzed all 50 states using cost-of-living data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center; information on malpractice payouts per capita from Diederich Healthcare; overall state and local tax burden data from the Tax Foundation; and physician compensation information from the 2015 Medscape Physician Compensation Report, and used the data to identify states where physicians can stretch their earnings the furthest—as well as states where one might have to pinch a few pennies.

We then asked Medscape readers for their recommendations, talked to recruiters about practice conditions in the various states, reviewed responses to The Physicians Foundation's 2014 survey of more than 20,000 US doctors, and interviewed practicing physicians to identify the 25 "best" (and the five "worst") states to practice, with recommended cities in each place.

Our findings? The states that offer the greatest financial opportunities are often the ones that attract the least attention.

What the "Best" States Have in Common

The vast majority of this year's "best" states are located in the Southeast, Midwest, and Great Plains. Indeed, of the 25 top performers, nine (Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia) are southern states. Nine more (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, and Michigan) are in the center of the country, and five more (Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Colorado) are just a hair west. New Hampshire was the only Northeastern state to make the cut and Alaska the only West Coast representative.


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