Best and Worst States to Be a Physician

The medical industry has faced its fair share of uncertainty in recent years. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and a sizable portion of the population getting ready to retire, physicians are becoming more selective with where they choose to practice. Medical professionals still rank among the top earners in the country, but some states offer more benefits than others. Earning potential, industry competition, and working conditions are among the most important factors for aspiring physicians to consider. As the cost of medical school tuition continues to soar, recent graduates and young professionals need to tackle the oppressive burden of student debt by securing a profitable location to practice their specific area of medicine.

Financial planning website Wallet Hub recently ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia to determine 2015’s Best and Worst States for Doctors. The study sheds some light on the pros and cons of practicing in each state. The article combined several key factors, based on two categories: Opportunity & Competition and Work Environment. To determine each state’s opportunities, the study included physicians’ average yearly income and starting salary adjusted for the cost of living, wage disparity, competition (the number of hospitals and practicing doctors per capita), insured population rate, and the percent of the population expected to turn 65 by 2030. For a physician’s working conditions, the study measured the rate at which a state’s medical board imposes disciplinary actions, malpractice award payouts per capita and the cost of malpractice insurance. The study collected its information from the Census Bureau, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics among others.

Best States to Be a Physician

The results may surprise you as the top-ranking states varied strongly in size, geographical location, and average income level. Coming in at number one, South Carolina has one of the highest income levels for doctors with a relatively inexpensive cost of living and the least punitive medical board in the country. At number two, Minnesota has the best work environment for physicians with some of the least expensive malpractice insurance rates. Texas is at number three with extremely low malpractice payouts. Fourth goes to Mississippi, offering some of the highest annual wages for doctors. Finishing in fifth, Kansas boasts equally competitive earning potential with a relatively stress-free work environment.

Worst States to Be a Physician

On the opposite end, Rhode Island comes in dead last with the second highest rate of physicians per capita. Second to last went to New Jersey with one of the highest malpractice insurance premiums in the country. Rounding out the bottom five are Oregon, New York and Maine, each with low earning potential and high competition. If Wallet Hub’s study has shown us anything, it’s that incentives for practicing doctors vary to the extreme from state to state.

Protect Your Earnings with Disability Insurance

It’s important to protect your level of income regardless of where you practice. An injury or illness could seriously impair your ability to practice medicine. Safeguard your future by purchasing disability insurance for physicians. Tailored to your specific needs, specialty and income level, disability insurance can replace a good portion of lost income when you need it most. Start your disability insurance quote here.