Healthcare Economy

States with the Fewest (and Most) Doctors

Ten States With The Fewest Doctors:

10. Georgia
> Doctors per 100,000 people: 179.9
> Medical students per 100,000 people: 23.6 (22nd lowest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 19.7% (5th highest)
> Life expectancy: 77.1 years (10th lowest)

Georgia is one of the worst states on paper for doctors looking to have a lucrative practice. Median income in the state was about $4,500 below the national average in 2010, and the state had the ninth-highest poverty rate. Also, nearly one in five Georgia residents were without health insurance, the fifth-highest proportion in the country. The state has just 20 doctors in a residency or fellowship program per 100,000 people, compared to the average of more than 35 per 100,000 people nationwide. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, state medical schools have increased enrollment by 50% over the past decade in anticipation of an increasing doctor shortage in the state.

9. Wyoming
> Doctors per 100,000 people: 178.8
> Medical students per 100,000 people: N/A
> Pct. without health insurance: 14.9% (21st highest)
> Life expectancy: 77.6 years (15th lowest)

No state has fewer doctors than Wyoming, where just over 1,000 active physicians were employed in 2010. Additionally, there are no accredited medical schools in the sparsely populated state, and only two accredited residency programs, which have a total of 39 participants. At a ratio of 7.1 medical residents per 100,000 people, Wyoming trains fewer doctors per capita than all but three other states. The state has also been unsuccessful in recruiting female doctors, who made up just 23.5% of physicians in Wyoming — the fifth lowest percentage in the U.S. However, there are some potential benefits to practicing in Wyoming: Median household income was $53,512 in 2010, over $3,000 higher than the national median.

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8. Oklahoma
> Doctors per 100,000 people: 178.7
> Medical students per 100,000 people: 27.9 (23rd highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 18.9% (7th highest)
> Life expectancy: 75.6 years (5th lowest)

Oklahoma has one of the least healthy populations in the country. More than two-thirds of the residents are overweight or obese, and a very small percentage regularly ate the recommended level of fruits or vegetables. Also, the state had the third-largest percentage of residents who smoke. As of 2010, there were just 20.8 doctors in a residency program in the state per 100,000 people, compared to the national rate of 35.8 per 100,000. A New England Journal of Medicine article last year identified the state as having the least accessible health care. Tulsa World also notes that state medical universities have not increased their enrollment size yet, which could help increase the number of medical students who might eventually become practicing doctors in the state.

7. Nevada
> Doctors per 100,000 people: 178.1
> Medical students per 100,000 people: 29.4 (21st highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 22.6% (2nd highest)
> Life expectancy: 77.6 years (14th lowest)

Although 57.8% of doctors who received a medical education in Nevada worked there — one of the highest rates in the nation — the state still struggled to find doctors. There were just 29.4 medical students per 100,000 people in the state, below the U.S. rate of 31.4 per 100,000 people. Worse still, there were just 10.5 doctors in a residence program per 100,000 people — one of the worst rates in the nation. According to the Las Vegas Sun, this low rate “makes it difficult to train enough doctors in state to meet [patient] demand.” Recruiting American-educated doctors from other states is also difficult. Of Nevada physicians, 27.9% were international medical graduates, one of the highest figures in the nation. Only one state, Texas, had a higher proportion of residents without health insurance than Nevada.

6. Alabama
> Doctors per 100,000 people: 178.0
> Medical students per 100,000 people: 22.2 (tied-17th lowest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 14.6% (23rd highest)
> Life expectancy: 75.2 years (3rd lowest)

Alabama’s population is especially unhealthy. About 70% of adults were either overweight or obese, while 13.2% were told by a doctor they had diabetes — both the highest rates in the nation. At 75.2 years, Alabama has the nation’s third-lowest life expectancy. A shortage of doctors makes addressing health concerns within the state difficult. Alabama had just 22.2 medical students and 25.3 doctors in residence programs per 100,000 people, both considerably lower than their respective national rates of 31.4 and 35.8 per 100,000. Currently, there are only two accredited medical schools in Alabama. One of these, the University of Alabama School of Medicine, plans to open to a new regional campus to assist the state in training more doctors.

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