The level of education required to become a doctor in the United States necessitates an investment of both time and money. After 8 years of undergraduate and postgraduate studies, 75% of medical school graduates in 2018 are carrying student loan debt. And half of those in debt owe $200,000 or more.
Even though physicians are among the highest paid professionals in the labor force, paying off that much debt is no small task. As the average compensation of general practitioners varies by state, where medical school graduates choose to practice can affect how long it will take them to pay off their student debt.
As in other professions, for doctors, compensation is just one of many factors to consider when deciding where to work. Hospitals across the country are not necessarily equally desirable work environments. As determined by measures such as average emergency room wait times, readmission rates, and mortality rates, the efficacy and efficiency of hospitals varies considerably across the country.
To identify the best and worst states for doctors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed several measures meant to guage of the quality of the system in which doctors work. We included in our analysis the average salary of general practitioners as a proxy for salaries of physicians as a broad group. In addition to general practitioner salary, our index includes average emergency room wait time, the share of patients readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of treatment — often an indication of hospital error — and the share of patients who die of certain conditions within 30 days of treatment. States are ranked from best to worst.