The Best and Worst Cities for Your Practice


When thinking about joining a practice or starting your own, remember the classic phrase “location, location, location.” This is not just in regards to which intersection or office space you may choose, but also the city and state in which you practice. A recent report from Medscape lists several of the best and worst cities and states for physicians to practice. The studies took several factors into account, including cost of living, compensation averages, quality of schools and overall quality-of-life ratings. While you will certainly take your personal preferences for practice into account first, it can be helpful to take a macroscopic view of what factors make a city ripe for practice.

Here are the top 10 cities and states listed in the Medscape report:

  1. Apex, North Carolina – cited for its abundance of research centers and hospitals, job growth and affordability. Rated first on Money magazine’s “Best Places to Live” for 2015.
  2. Austin, Texas – cited for a growing population of young people and business-friendly environment. Austin’s population growth projections are due in part to the various tech start-ups.
  3. Birmingham, Alabama – cited for high compensation, low cost of living and favorable malpractice environment. At 212,000 people, Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama and an economic driver for the state.
  4. Boise, Idaho – cited for a more slow-paced lifestyle, low cost of living, and nearby attractions. Boise is located near word-class ski resorts and numerous hiking trails.
  5. Columbus, Ohio – cited for quality of schools, cost of living, and job opportunities. Forbes rated Columbus as one of the 10 most affordable metro areas in the U.S.
  6. Denver, Colorado – cited for low unemployment, recreational activities, and growth. Denver’s economy is stronger than ever and the city’s location is great for those who enjoy the outdoors.
  7. Des Moines, Iowa – cited for low cost of living and low physician density compared to the population. Des Moines offers a potent combination of plentiful jobs and affordable housing. Des Moines has just 179 physicians per 100,000 residents.
  8. Fremont, California – cited for outdoor attractions and highly rated schools. While California doesn’t offer ideal cost of living, Fremont makes up for this by offering a safe community with several golf courses and parks.
  9. Grand Rapids, Michigan – cited for proximity to universities and medical schools and patient access to medical care. Residents of Grand Rapids report having easy access to necessary medical services, even with 13% fewer physicians than the national average.
  10. Indianapolis, Indiana – cited for high compensation, quality schools, and cultural activities. Average physician compensation in Indiana is $304,000 while the cost of living among the lowest in the nation. Forbes ranked Indianapolis as the fourth most affordable city in the U.S.

The following are the five worst cities for physician practice as reported by Medscape. These cities typically have high cost of living, high unemployment, a lack of cultural attractions, or a combination of these factors.

  1. Albuquerque, New Mexico – cited for above-average unemployment, high malpractice payouts and low compensation. New Mexico is currently facing a large Medicaid deficit and may face even more healthcare access issues in the future.
  2. Charleston, West Virginia – cited for a high rate of unemployment, poverty, and a less-educated population. Nearly 20% of Charleston’s population lives in poverty and the town has seen an overall decrease in employment in the health and education sectors.
  3. Washington, D.C. – cited for high physician density, low compensation and expensive housing. Washington’s average physician compensation was $226,000, the second lowest out of all fifty states
  4. Jackson, Mississippi – cited for high crime, poor health, and a less educated population statewide. Jackson reported a 30% increase in murders just last year and nearly a quarter of residents report having poor health.
  5. Providence, Rhode Island – cited for low compensation, high taxes, and slow economic growth. The state of Rhode Island has the lowest compensation for physicians in the U.S. and Providence was named the fifth worst city for finding a job in 2016 by

Your ultimate choice for the location of your medical practice will be influenced by a number of individual factors. Looking at the particular strengths of a city and state, such as the climate or average income, and weighing their importance to you is the first step to finding your preferred practice situation. Once you have identified the places you want to be, Resolve can create a custom job search to find you your ideal job. Find out more by clicking this link.