Best states to practice medicine in 2019

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published April 12, 2019

Key Takeaways

At the end of a frustrating and tiring day, you may sometimes think, "I should just pack up and move to Hawaii!" But is the grass (or the palm trees) always greener on the other side of the country? It depends on many factors. To that end, we at MDLinx analyzed a dozen parameters to try to determine which states are the best and which are the worst for physicians to practice.

So, you're probably wondering, which state came out on top? And where did your state rank?

But first, a few words about our methodology. As noted, this analysis considered several key factors, in both career and lifestyle, which all weighed equally on the final score:

Career Factors

Lifestyle factors

For each factor, states were ranked on a scale from 1 to 50, with 1 being best and 50, worst. The average of these scores generated our overall ranking. District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were not ranked because not all data were available.

Using these factors as a basis, it's not difficult to see how some of the best states ranked high in our overall analysis. These states scored well in terms of physician salary and healthcare quality, and low in numbers of physicians per population or cost of medical malpractice insurance. They're also well-regarded places to raise a family, enjoy a high quality of life, and better health and wellbeing.

(But since your preferences may vary, scroll to the bottom to see which states ranked high only in the Career or in the Lifestyle factors.)

Now without further ado, here are MDLinx's 10 best places to practice in 2019.

10. Utah

High healthcare quality amid a booming economy.

No wonder Utah is nicknamed the Beehive State—it's as busy as one these days. Utah's economy is booming, and so is its expanding workforce. For physicians and their families, Utah ranks #2 in both healthcare quality and higher education, and #7 in both physician density and health and wellbeing. It's also one of the happiest states, second only to Hawaii.

9. Idaho

Rugged natural beauty is the backdrop to physician opportunity.

Forget about the potatoes. Idaho's nickname is the Gem State, not only because of its precious underground resources, but also for its above-ground unspoiled natural beauty. It's ranked #2 among states with the fewest physicians per population, #6 in healthcare quality, and #7 for physician pay.

8. Washington

Ranks high in healthcare quality and higher education.

Washington's reputation as a rainy Northwestern state isn't entirely deserved—Florida and Louisiana get more precipitation during the year. Among Washington's other distinctions, the Evergreen State ranked #3 in our analysis for both healthcare quality and higher education, and #5 in physician pay.

7. South Dakota

High quality of life plus no state income tax.

This wide-open state is much more than Mount Rushmore and the bleak Badlands. It's second only to Alaska as the most tax-friendly state in the United States, and it's one of the few states that has no income tax. In addition, South Dakota ranks #5 for quality of life.

6. Wyoming

Friendly to cowboys, cowgirls, and businesspeople.

If you like the outdoors, you'll be at home in Wyoming. The Cowboy State features 12 state parks, 8 national forests, 6 national parks, and plenty of open spaces to hunt, fish, bike, hike, and climb. Wyoming is not only one of the most tax-friendly states (#3) but it also has the most business-friendly tax climate. And if it's elbow room you're looking for, it has a low physician population (#3).

5. Wisconsin

High pay and quality of life, plus low medical malpractice insurance.

Is America's Dairyland the land of milk and honey? Maybe so. It scores high in terms of physician salary (#2), quality of life (#3), and places to raise a family (#7). Plus, it's one of the states with the lowest industry average cost for medical malpractice insurance (#8).

4. Colorado

Healthy lifestyle goes hand in hand with healthy economy.

Not only is Colorado one of the physically fittest states—with mountains to climb, trails to hike, and rivers to raft in—but its economy is considered the healthiest in the United States, according to US News & World Report. For physicians, the Centennial State scores well for healthcare quality (#5), health & wellbeing (#6), salary (#9), quality of life (#10), family friendliness (#12), and cultural activity (#12).

3. Nebraska

Things are popping in the Cornhusker State.

The Cornhusker State is alive and well, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Meanwhile, physicians may appreciate its low cost of medical malpractice insurance (#4) and its higher education rank (#7), though it also scores well in terms of healthcare quality, family friendliness, and health & wellbeing.

2. Iowa

Ranks near the top in numerous categories.

Last year, the Hawkeye State topped our list of best states for physicians to practice (and it still comes in first in US News & World Report's overall Best States rankings). For physicians, Iowa ranks among the top 10 states in several categories: physician density per population (#8); higher education (#8); and quality of life (#9). The state also gets good grades for physician pay, cost of living, places to raise a family, and health & wellbeing.

And the #1 state to practice medicine is…North Dakota!

Tops the charts for physician pay and quality of life, among other factors.

According to our MDLinx analysis, the best state for physicians to practice in 2019 is North Dakota.

In the Sioux language, Dakota means "friend," which perhaps tells us why this state also ranks #1 in quality of life—a score that rates social support within the context of a healthy environment. Moreover, North Dakota is the top state for physician pay, and ranks high in family friendliness (#3), higher education (#6), and health & wellbeing (#8).

Next week, look for our list of the "Worst states to practice medicine in 2019."

Continue reading for the full list of Top 25 States to Practice, and Top 10s for Career and Lifestyle.

Best States for Physicians to Practice

25Rhode Island
17New Mexico
13New Hampshire
7South Dakota
1North Dakota

Best States for Physicians—Career Factors

8New Mexico
2North Dakota

Best States for Physicians—Lifestyle Factors

7New Hampshire
3South Dakota
1North Dakota
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