Medscape names Tennessee the best place to practice medicine; New York finishes last

Great news for Southerners, but Northeastern states score low

Medscape Medical News last week published its 2015 list of the best and worst places to practice medicine in the United States, which focuses on factors—professional and otherwise—that could affect physicians' quality of life.

For the annual list, Medscape researchers evaluated states based on various factors of life and practice quality, including cost of living, tax burden, physician compensation, and malpractice claims per capita.

Researchers drew on data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Diederich Healthcare, the Tax Foundation, and Medscape's Physician Compensation Survey. Researchers also requested reader recommendations and evaluated physician responses to the Physician Foundation's 2014 survey of more than 20,000 U.S. physicians. In addition, they spoke with recruiters about practices in various locations and interviewed practicing doctors about their communities.

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The best places to practice medicine

Using the data, Medscape ranked the best 25 states to practice medicine and the bottom five. It also highlighted the best—and worst—cities to practice within those states.

The top 10 states to practice medicine—and top-recommended cities in those states—were:

1. Tennessee (Franklin, Murfreesboro)

2. Mississippi (Oxford)

3. Oklahoma (Tulsa)

4. Texas (Tyler)

5. Wyoming (Casper)

6. Idaho (Boise)

7. South Carolina (Columbia)

8. New Hampshire (Nashua)

9. Nebraska (Omaha)

10. Alaska (Valdez)

Steve Marsh, managing partner for physician recruiting organization The Medicus Firm, says, "A lot of the states on the list are more rural in nature and have a lot of smaller and midsized communities—communities of 150,000," adding, "Physicians do better in those kinds of places, and they offer better cost of living than the metros."

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The diversified economies of these communities also offer an advantage, because these states are more protected against economic downturns, Medscape reports.

Meanwhile, the five worst states to practice in—and specific cities to avoid—are:

1. New York (New York City)

2. Rhode Island (Providence)

3. Maryland (Baltimore)

4. Massachusetts (Chelsea)

5. Connecticut (Hartford)

According to Tommy Bohannon of Merritt Hawkins, a physician recruiting firm, these states all have certain qualities that make them poor hubs for physician practice. "What all of these states have in common is that they're saturated, and doctors don't make much money," he says, adding, "If you're trying to get a job in one of them, you don't have much leverage because there is somebody right behind you who is willing to take the job" (Reese [1], Medscape Medical News, 5/18; Reese [2], Medscape Medical News, 5/18).

The takeaway: Medscape last week released its list of the best and worst places to practice medicine. Tennessee took top honors, while New York was ranked the worst state in which to practice.

Where should you live?

Check out some our recent coverage on state rankings:

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