Best States To Practice Medicine In 2021

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  1. The Good Doctor

    The Good Doctor Golden Member

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    While it is certainly true that quite a lot has happened in the field of medicine since the last time MDLinx published a list of the best states to practice in 2019 (and the worst), one thing hasn’t changed: You have to love where you live.

    If you’re one of the many physicians considering a big change or an escape to new scenery, we sure hope you like mountains and plains.

    This year’s analysis considered several key factors for both professional and lifestyle quality of life. All factors were weighted equally to calculate each state’s final rank. States were ranked on a scale from 1 to 50 in each category, with 1 being best. The average of these scores generated our overall ranking.

    The following factors—gathered from the most recent data available—determined our overall ranking.

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    Career Quality of Life
    • Overall pay for physicians – Data from the May 2020 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    • Lowest cost of living – Data from the 2020 Composite Cost of Living Index published by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.

    • Lowest physician density – From the 2019 State Physician Workforce Data Report published by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

    • Lowest cost of malpractice insurance – From the 2018 ranking of direct premiums earned by the medical professional liability insurance market in the United States published by Statista.

    • Most tax-friendly – Data on the 2019 state and local tax burdens by the Tax Foundation.

    • Quality of healthcare – Data from the 2019-2020 US News and World Report Health Care Quality Rankings.
    Lifestyle Quality of Life
    • Overall US State Ranking – Data from the 2021 US News and World Report Best State Rankings.

    • Best quality of life – From the 2021 WalletHub Best & Worst States for Families.

    • Best higher education environment – Data from the 2019-2020 US News and World Report Higher Education Rankings.

    • Best Community Wellbeing – Data compiled from 2019 Community Well-Being Index by the Boston University School of Public Health and Sharecare.
    Unfortunately, not enough comparable data were available for Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, so those areas were not ranked.

    Without further ado, we proudly present to you the list of the best states to practice medicine in 2021.

    10. Colorado

    Not the biggest paycheck, but the views can’t be beat.

    The Centennial state fell from its #4 in our overall Best States to Practice Medicine ranking in 2019, but it still managed to stay in the top 10. While it’s lacking in overall physician pay (#40), the land of the Rockies ranked high in healthcare quality (#5), higher education environment (#5), and community well-being (#8).

    9. Iowa

    The Hawkeye State has been slipping in our rankings since being named the #1 state to practice in 2018 (named #2 in 2019), but it’s still among the best states for physicians.

    It’s ranked #25 in overall pay, but each paycheck will get you a little further than in many other places—it’s #12 in cost of living. There’s plenty of room to set up a practice (#16 in physician density), and it’s one of the best states to raise a family (#12) and go to college (#11).

    8. Wisconsin

    Ranked #8 in overall pay, you’ll likely not be taking home a huge paycheck due to the cost of living (#23), malpractice insurance cost (#23), and general tax-unfriendliness (#37).

    However, America’s Dairyland is a great place to raise a family (#14) and get quality healthcare (#8). It’s also just an all-around good place to be, as it came in #8 in the US News & World Report overall state ranking.

    6. Washington (Tie)

    The Evergreen state is a pricy place to live overall (#39), but it’s community rankings are hard to beat. Ranked #1 overall by US News & World Report, the birthplace of grunge also ranked #2 in overall education and #8 in places to raise a family.

    One word of caution before packing up and moving: The state dance is the square dance.

    6. Nebraska (Tie)

    Nebraska took a hit in the tax-friendly ranking (#32) but made a strong showing in overall pay (#9), malpractice cost (#10), overall state ranking (#6), and higher education environment (#10). It’s also one of the best places in the nation to raise a family (#11).

    5. Minnesota

    This year, the birthplace of Prince received low marks on taxes (#46) and struggled in the middle of the rankings for cost of living (#31), malpractice cost (#24), and healthcare quality (#31). However, the state excelled in the overall state ranking (#2) and best states to raise a family (#2).

    4. South Dakota

    South Dakota—Home to Mount Rushmore and Deadwood—rose in our rankings from its #7 spot in 2019. It ranks #1 in physician pay and #2 in malpractice insurance costs, although it came in at a surprising #27 in physician density.

    Other highlights include a robust higher education environment (#8) and family friendliness (#13).

    3. Wyoming

    Climbing up all the way from #6 on our 2019 list, The Equality State excels in the professional categories thanks in part to no individual or corporate income taxes.

    Wyoming ranked #2 in tax friendliness, #3 in pay, and #4 in malpractice cost. Practice opportunities abound as well—the state ranked #11 in physician density.

    2. North Dakota

    The 2019 champion and birth state of Lawrence Welk slips to #2 on our overall list.

    Take high pay (#4), low malpractice insurance (#1), a friendly tax system (#9), and add in the fact that it’s a great place for families (#3), and you’ve got yourself a pretty good state to run a practice in.

    And the #1 state to practice medicine is…Utah!

    After ranking #10 overall in 2019, The Beehive State takes home 2021’s top prize.

    Naturally, Utah ranked #1 in overall physician density, but it also took high honors for healthcare quality (#3), overall state ranking (#3), best states for families (#10), higher education environment (#6), and community well-being (#7).

    With eight national monuments, five national parks, and seven national forests, there’s plenty to do on the weekends.

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

    Best States for Physicians to Practice

    25. California

    24. Kansas

    23. Arizona

    22. Alaska

    21. Indiana

    20. Oregon

    19. Nevada

    18. Florida

    17. New Hampshire

    16. North Carolina

    15. New Jersey

    14. Massachusetts

    13. Idaho

    12. Virginia

    11. Hawaii

    10. Colorado

    9. Iowa

    8. Wisconsin

    6. Washington (Tie)

    6. Nebraska (Tie)

    5. Minnesota

    4. South Dakota

    3. Wyoming

    2. North Dakota

    1. Utah

    Best States for Physicians—Career Factors

    10. Georgia

    9. Arizona

    8. Indiana

    7. Iowa

    6. Tennessee

    5. South Dakota

    4. Wyoming

    3. North Dakota

    2. Idaho

    1. Utah

    Best States for Physicians—Lifestyle Factors

    10. California

    9. New Jersey

    8. Virginia

    7. Colorado

    6. New York

    5. Nebraska

    4. Minnesota

    3. Massachusetts

    2. Utah

    1. Washington

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