The states where doctors make the highest (and lowest) salaries

You might be surprised at the state where—when adjusted for the cost of living—doctors are earning the highest average annual wages.

That state where doctors earn the most is Mississippi, according to an analysis from WalletHub, the personal finance website.

The location where doctors earn the least? It’s the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., according to the report "2020’s Best and Worst States for Doctors."

After Mississippi, the other four best states when it comes to wages are: South Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. The report includes a ranking for each state. The other lowest-paying states: New York, California, Maryland and Massachusetts.

The report did not list the average salaries in each state but noted physicians were the highest-paid job type in 2019, according to a Glassdoor report, with a median base salary of more than $193,000.

In order to help physicians decide what are the best places in the country to practice, WalletHub compared the 50 states and D.C., measuring 19 key metrics that ranged from the average annual wage to the number of hospitals per capita and the quality of the public hospital system. The company used those metrics to compare states across two key dimensions: “opportunity and competition” and “medical environment."

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Based on all those metrics, what’s the best state for doctors? It’s Montana, followed by Wisconsin, Idaho, North Dakota and Minnesota in the top five. Just what has Montana got going for it? It ranked high in the share of medical residents it is able to retain and its projected share of the elderly population.

And the worst state for doctors? It’s New York, followed by Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Alaska.

The analysis also compared states on a number of factors. For one, it looked at the projected level of competition for physician jobs by 2026—Nevada was the lowest, and a number of states ranked the same when it comes to the highest level of competition: New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and D.C.

The country could see a shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032, according to a projection from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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The least punitive state medical board was in Massachusetts, and the most punitive medical board was in Delaware.

The state with the lowest malpractice award payment amount per capita was North Dakota, and the highest was New York.

The state with the least expensive annual malpractice liability insurance was Wisconsin, and the most expensive was New York.

Surgery is the second most common cause for medical malpractice claims against doctors overall, according to a report released last month from medical liability insurer Coverys. Only diagnosis-related claims, which made up 32% of the claims, resulted in more malpractice cases.