A Doctor’s ‘Field of Dreams?’ – Iowa, Not NY, Study Says

Here’s a study where Iowa ranks first and New York last, and it’s not about farming opportunities. It’s about being a great place for physicians to work.

If you are a doctor, Iowa is  the best state to practice, while New York fares the worst, according to WalletHub‘s Best and Worst States for Doctors study.

It may seem simplistic, even far-fetched, but WalletHub evaluated many different factors to come up with its findings. The company said it compared the 50 states and Washington D.C. across 14 key metrics, “ranging from the annual wage of physicians to hospitals per capital to quality of the public hospital system.”

Overall, WalletHub data showed the “best states for doctors combine opportunity, compensation and low malpractice odds,” Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with WalletHub, told HealthDataBuzz.

“The (WalletHub) report was conducted from a doctor’s perspective and the states with the best environments in which to practice,” Gonzalez said.

As WalletHub noted in its report,th, physicians are among the highest paid professionals, but they are most certainly in a complicated career landscape.  You name the issues, and iWalletHub addresses them: Healthcare reform, the increasing number of hospital networks, and the surging numbers of Baby Boomers heading into retirement, among other factors.

Putting all those factors together, Iowa fared the best for physicians.

“Iowa should continue to offer great opportunities to doctors with a very attractive medical environment,” Gonzalez said. “New York ranked last because it is a very competitive state for doctors with fewer hospitals per capita.”

Two of the key data areas for ranking the states were “Opportunity & Competition” and “Medical Environment.”

The Opportunity & Competition issue involves a host of issues: annual wages, starting salaries, hospitals per capita, the insured population and primary care provider shortages, projections of the share of the elderly population, current and projected competition, the number of Continuing Medical Education credits required, and what was termed the presence of an interstate medical licensure compact. The Medical Environment includes the quality of the public hospital system, how punitive a state medical board may be,  malpractice award payouts (an amount per capita) and the annual malpractice liability insurance rate, according to WalletHub.

Using those evaluations, WalletHub examined 14 relevant metrics and calculated the overall score for each state.

Iowa, with its overall No. 1 rank, was  listed as No. 2 for ‘Opportunity & Competition’  and No. 6 for ‘Medical Environment.’

Minnesota was No. 2 in the overall rank, (with No. 8 for ‘Opportunity and Competition’ and  No. 1 for ‘Medical Environment.)’ Idaho was No. 3 overall (No. 3 in Opportunity and Competition’ and No. 11 for ‘Medical Environment’ rank).  Those states were followed by Kansas and South Dakota.

The worst states were New York, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Some unusual facts: The Washington DC area has the lowest average annual salary for surgeons – just $121,139 (adjusted for the cost of living while Nebraska is ranked the first with an annual wage of $307,590, according to WalletHub.

That, said Gonzalez, was a “surprise.”

– — Joe Cantlupe


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