Best and worst states for physicians to practice in 2019

With high compensation and a good work-life balance, Minnesota is the best state for physicians to thrive in 2019, according to a recent ranking from Medscape.

Its “outstanding health system and high livability ranking" contributed to the overall ranking by Medscape. The state is also tied with Alaska for the lowest levels of burnout in the nation, at 36%.

States were ranked on 14 criteria, including five metrics that physicians assessed about their own work-life situation, such as burnout, happiness at work and happiness outside of work, while another five gauged the overall performance of a state’s healthcare system. Three metrics looked at the regulatory and fiscal environment that could affect physicians, and Medscape also ranked each state on overall livability.

Here are the top 10 states for physicians to thrive:

  1. Minnesota
  2. Iowa
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Utah
  5. Hawaii
  6. Washington
  7. Nebraska
  8. South Dakota
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Vermont

Iowa’s high ranking for access and affordability of care, coupled with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 2.4% and low levels of burnout, gave the state the No. 2 spot. Wisconsin touted lower burnout levels and a low cost of living, while Utah has one of the top health systems in the nation for avoidable hospital use and costs, healthy lives and low disparity of care. Hawaii ranked better than any other state for access and affordability of healthcare and is second lowest for malpractice payout per capita.

Of course, some states pose higher challenges for physicians, including regulatory issues or a lower work-life balance and higher burnout rates.

Here are the 5 worst states for physicians in 2019:

  1. Kentucky
  2. West Virginia
  3. Louisiana
  4. Nevada
  5. Oklahoma

With a state health system that ranks in the bottom quintile and about 1 in 5 doctors saying they aren’t happy on the job, Kentucky ranks among the bottom of states for physicians to thrive. A lackluster business environment contributed to the overall ranking, though most doctors in the state say they’re happy outside of work.

Similarly, West Virginia’s health system’s low rating played into its spot on Medscape’s list, with the second worst unemployment rate in the nation at the start of 2019, at 5.2%. Oklahoma fell into the bottom 20% in all five categories of The Commonwealth Fund’s ranking for 2018, and the state has a low livability score from the U.S. News and World Report.