Physicians have much to consider when comparing practice opportunities, and location ranks high among factors that can influence a doctor's satisfaction and financial well-being. The latest survey to rank the United States by desirability to practice comes from WalletHub, which used 12 metrics to measure physicians' opportunity, competition and work environment by state.
Based on this analysis of each state's compensation rates, litigiousness, patient population size and medical board sanctions, South Carolina, Minnesota and Texas secured the top three respective states to practice, while Oregon, New Jersey and Rhode Island rounded out the bottom.
Consistent with the results of similar surveys conducted by Physicians Practice, the top-ranking states didn't necessarily feature much big-city medicine, as the cost of living and competition for market share in more urban areas seemed to offset the advantages of smaller communities. While the methodologies differed between surveys, states such as Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina and Idaho have sat in the top 10 across sources in recent years.
Mississippi, for example, ranked fourth in 2015 by WalletHub, stands out for offering high salaries relative to the cost of living and the lowest projected number of physicians per capita by 2022. "It is really a nice place to raise a family, because it's not so densely populated," Mississippi doctor Robert Harris, M.D., told Physicians Practice last year. "You do tend to be [more] involved … [and] it seems easier to keep up with your children, because everyone is sort of a neighbor, they are all looking out for each other."
New Jersey natives, on the other hand, acknowledged the reasons their state ranked second-to-last in this year's survey. Adding insult to the injury of low relative pay, physicians in the Garden State pay the fourth-highest malpractice premiums in the country, according to WalletHub. Indeed: "Premiums can run from $10,000 to $15,000 at the lower end, and upwards of $100,000 for high-risk practitioners," Larry Downs, Esq., CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey, told New Jersey 101.5.
And like much of the nation, the administrative burden of working with insurers has become increasingly difficult over the past 10 to 15 years, Downs added.
Nearly universally, the biggest challenges facing practicing physicians today come down to time and money, Cynthia Haq, M.D., professor of family medicine and population health sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, told WalletHub. "Time to complete all the tasks recommended and patients requesting; money for reimbursement to cover all the expenses, especially for patients on Medicaid, Medicare and for the uninsured," is in short supply, she explained. Nonetheless, she assured aspiring doctors that they would find fulfilling careers by choosing a field they love and going where they are needed.