The Best Places in the U.S. for Physicians and Surgeons

UPDATE: See the updated rankings for 2016 here: https://www.goodcall.com/data-center/2016-best-places-physicians-and-surgeons

At GoodCall, we talk a lot about the economic health of communities – jobs, cost of living, housing affordability and more. But the physical health of a city or town can be just as significant. And that’s what makes doctors such an important part of any community.

Physicians and surgeons put in countless hours working to promote the health of the communities they live in, from diagnosing and treating sick patients to teaching citizens about disease prevention. That’s why we wanted to find communities that give back to physicians and surgeons, too, providing them with a great quality of life and work. We analyzed more than 200 cities based on:

  • Median physician and surgeon salaries
  • Housing affordability (percent of income spent on rent)
  • Job availability (number of available jobs, job density and job competition)
  • Hospitals per capita (statewide)
  • Malpractice payouts per capita (statewide)

We combined these metrics and came up with an overall GoodCall Score to rank the best metropolitan areas for physicians and surgeons – we also ranked the best cities in each individual category.

Check out the top ten metro areas for physicians and surgeons, along with the rest of our data, below!

I. The Top Places for Physicians and Surgeons

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Best Salary

1. St. Joseph, MO-KS
2. Laredo, TX
3. Decatur, IL
4. Boulder, CO
5. Duluth, MN-WI

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Most Affordable Housing

1. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC
2. Cape Girardeau, MO-IL
3. Dothan, AL
4. St. Joseph, MO-KS
5. Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH

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Best Jobs

1. Racine, WI
2. Boulder, CO
3. Kokomo, IN
4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
5. Springfield, OH

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Best Amenities

1. Kingston, NY
2. Boulder, CO
3. Glens Falls, NY
4. Wilmington, NC
5. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin TN

II. The Data

Rank Metro Area Name GoodCall Score Median Salary Population Housing Affordability Index Amenities per 1,000 Housing Units Job Availability Rank Hospitals per Capita Malpractice Payouts per Capita
1 Cape Girardeau, MO-IL 162.80 $258,350 97,929 3.65% 5.78 9 1.930 0.020
2 Dubuque, IA 158.80 $254,450 96,370 4.38% 7.50 28 1.224 0.018
3 Mansfield, OH 155.50 $249,050 121,942 3.83% 6.57 19 1.501 0.015
4 Duluth, MN-WI 150.55 $258,980 280,218 4.14% 7.31 68 0.460 0.006
5 Odessa, TX 145.65 $258,490 153,904 3.73% 2.68 21 2.755 0.016
6 Laredo, TX 144.85 $264,060 266,673 4.26% 1.41 23 1.590 0.016
7 Kokomo, IN 144.50 $247,680 82,982 3.89% 2.92 3 1.482 0.037
8 Harrisonburg, VA 143.80 $244,830 130,649 4.75% 6.38 32 0.712 0.013
9 Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX 142.40 $257,120 405,427 3.73% 3.76 41 1.046 0.016
10 Green Bay, WI 141.35 $254,850 314,531 4.76% 6.14 58 0.410 0.006
11 Ames, IA 140.65 $240,890 94,073 4.80% 6.82 33 1.254 0.018
12 Flagstaff, AZ 140.20 $244,560 137,682 5.01% 6.86 61 0.523 0.023
13 Muskegon, MI 139.90 $236,050 172,344 4.30% 5.33 10 0.876 0.029
14 Boulder, CO 139.65 $261,610 313,333 6.00% 12.55 2 0.262 0.015
15 Sioux City, IA-NE-SD 139.35 $239,900 168,806 4.13% 5.80 67 0.699 0.018
16 Springfield, OH 138.60 $250,190 136,554 4.09% 1.90 5 1.340 0.015
17 Utica-Rome, NY 137.10 $239,520 296,615 4.42% 5.70 51 0.597 0.068
18 Brunswick, GA 136.15 $237,380 114,806 4.57% 7.67 92 1.254 0.021
19 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC 135.10 $254,610 362,896 3.64% 4.89 49 0.322 0.010
20 Sumter, SC 133.05 $248,220 107,919 3.86% 3.18 37 0.639 0.024
21 Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL 130.10 $257,000 348,777 5.64% 7.61 82 0.608 0.039
22 Decatur, IL 127.35 $263,230 108,350 3.76% 1.53 136 1.744 0.020
23 Sioux Falls, SD 126.85 $239,980 248,351 4.94% 7.61 93 0.217 0.031
24 Rapid City, SD 125.55 $231,340 143,638 5.03% 8.07 76 0.376 0.031
25 Madera, CA 125.35 $236,720 154,548 5.69% 2.13 8 2.245 0.023
26 Glens Falls, NY 123.95 $215,720 127,345 5.78% 10.22 29 1.390 0.068
27 Gainesville, GA 123.75 $253,200 190,761 5.03% 4.89 66 0.755 0.021
28 Reading, PA 122.75 $238,680 413,691 5.58% 6.03 40 0.459 0.050
29 Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton PA 122.40 $243,040 559,679 4.46% 5.81 111 0.339 0.050
30 Tallahassee, FL 122.30 $231,510 375,751 5.47% 5.45 44 0.564 0.039
31 Morristown, TN 122.30 $230,230 115,713 3.92% 2.89 39 1.123 0.017
32 Canton-Massillon, OH 121.85 $247,830 403,923 4.22% 5.35 100 0.453 0.015
33 Dothan, AL 121.80 $244,520 148,095 3.67% 2.24 104 0.655 0.008
34 Lynchburg, VA 121.50 $253,730 257,835 4.18% 1.38 71 0.361 0.013
35 Appleton, WI 120.80 $232,410 231,497 5.44% 5.50 31 0.557 0.006
36 Tyler, TX 120.25 $224,090 218,842 5.06% 5.44 55 1.937 0.016
37 Greensboro-High Point, NC 120.10 $253,140 746,593 4.39% 5.05 86 0.157 0.010
38 Evansville, IN-KY 118.80 $247,370 315,162 4.25% 5.21 125 0.336 0.027
39 St. Joseph, MO-KS 117.85 $267,280 127,431 3.68% 5.05 198 0.965 0.024
40 Panama City, FL 117.75 $225,660 194,929 5.35% 5.18 63 1.088 0.039
41 Olympia-Tumwater, WA 117.25 $230,100 265,851 6.47% 5.54 6 0.339 0.018
42 Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA 117.15 $221,710 308,079 3.88% 4.18 16 0.302 0.013
43 Amarillo, TX 116.45 $217,060 259,885 4.95% 5.28 59 1.631 0.016
44 Austin-Round Rock, TX 115.70 $250,100 1,943,299 5.94% 6.14 85 0.218 0.016
45 Grand Junction, CO 114.45 $219,930 148,255 5.69% 5.73 43 0.553 0.015
46 Wichita Falls, TX 114.40 $233,890 151,536 4.40% 5.76 206 2.798 0.016
47 Abilene, TX 113.50 $213,550 168,592 4.52% 1.93 12 2.515 0.016
48 Winchester, VA-WV 113.00 $239,740 133,403 5.38% 1.96 83 0.697 0.013
49 Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL 112.80 $239,070 115,916 3.74% 4.55 140 0.837 0.008
50 Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA 112.40 $228,020 553,263 4.24% 5.67 98 0.343 0.050
51 Peoria, IL 112.10 $248,260 380,040 4.48% 5.56 206 0.497 0.020
52 Pueblo, CO 111.65 $251,130 161,875 4.32% 4.92 206 0.507 0.015
53 Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA 111.35 $246,730 169,993 4.18% 2.33 140 0.694 0.018
54 Fort Collins, CO 111.00 $257,470 324,122 5.49% 8.58 206 0.253 0.015
55 South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI 108.60 $225,750 319,226 4.57% 6.26 130 0.385 0.037
56 Fresno, CA 108.40 $238,190 965,974 5.59% 3.41 50 0.359 0.023
56 Port St. Lucie, FL 108.40 $236,200 444,420 5.49% 1.69 80 0.477 0.039
58 Longview, TX 108.30 $232,380 217,481 4.16% 2.06 128 1.950 0.016
59 Binghamton, NY 108.15 $225,030 247,219 4.69% 5.58 163 0.716 0.068
60 Johnson City, TN 106.70 $209,780 201,091 4.25% 4.21 33 0.646 0.017
61 Fort Wayne, IN 106.60 $233,860 427,183 4.36% 4.76 133 0.288 0.037
62 Prescott, AZ 106.40 $217,490 218,844 5.22% 7.77 81 0.329 0.023
63 Cedar Rapids, IA 106.15 $219,900 263,885 5.33% 5.31 64 0.447 0.018
64 Florence, SC 105.70 $215,550 207,030 4.28% 4.24 42 0.333 0.024
65 Tucson, AZ 105.25 $222,720 1,004,516 5.42% 6.09 56 0.072 0.023
66 Syracuse, NY 105.00 $234,190 661,478 5.13% 7.25 186 0.268 0.068
67 Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL 104.75 $232,850 383,030 4.67% 5.72 173 0.308 0.018
68 Topeka, KS 104.15 $220,880 233,758 4.98% 5.78 128 0.556 0.040
69 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 104.10 $242,670 1,572,245 5.63% 6.29 145 0.082 0.006
70 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 103.45 $204,880 831,073 4.33% 3.87 4 0.510 0.016
71 Sherman-Denison, TX 103.40 $194,600 123,534 5.40% 5.79 37 3.432 0.016
72 Jackson, TN 103.30 $250,790 130,225 4.06% 2.20 206 0.998 0.017
73 Asheville, NC 102.85 $217,330 442,316 4.97% 7.76 142 0.265 0.010
73 Lubbock, TX 102.85 $222,200 305,644 4.97% 5.54 124 1.387 0.016
75 Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ 102.30 $224,890 203,361 4.47% 2.07 94 0.354 0.023
76 Knoxville, TN 101.25 $238,090 857,585 4.41% 4.12 119 0.152 0.017
77 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL 101.20 $218,150 556,885 5.70% 6.34 90 0.381 0.039
78 Santa Rosa, CA 100.80 $203,370 500,292 8.21% 9.12 14 0.694 0.023
79 Cumberland, MD-WV 100.30 $228,760 100,530 4.01% 5.24 206 0.497 0.028
80 El Paso, TX 100.10 $211,820 836,698 4.79% 4.95 53 0.507 0.016
81 Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS 100.00 $220,440 386,144 5.05% 3.24 30 0.256 0.025
82 Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA 99.55 $238,640 271,804 7.19% 9.44 206 1.277 0.023
83 Richmond, VA 98.85 $226,400 1,260,029 6.27% 5.78 74 0.074 0.013
84 Kennewick-Richland, WA 97.70 $223,650 274,295 5.40% 4.12 105 0.328 0.018
85 Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC 97.55 $207,510 417,668 5.53% 5.45 165 0.280 0.010
85 Albany, GA 97.55 $224,080 154,925 4.51% 3.69 7 0.929 0.021
87 Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI 97.00 $215,270 1,027,703 5.59% 4.15 20 0.147 0.029
88 Parkersburg-Vienna, WV 96.95 $215,670 92,082 3.87% 7.23 191 0.597 0.045
89 Athens-Clarke County, GA 96.90 $213,810 199,016 5.46% 8.19 153 0.724 0.021
90 Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV 95.80 $214,330 260,070 5.96% 5.48 35 0.192 0.028
91 Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ 95.30 $219,020 275,209 7.29% 7.74 111 0.280 0.047
92 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 94.95 $211,000 431,131 7.99% 5.62 18 0.805 0.023
93 Iowa City, IA 94.75 $213,220 164,357 5.91% 6.05 135 0.718 0.018
94 Lebanon, PA 94.65 $205,840 136,359 5.75% 2.25 11 1.393 0.050
95 Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL 94.50 $213,060 474,081 5.73% 5.38 52 0.447 0.039
96 Colorado Springs, CO 94.30 $218,730 686,908 6.41% 5.85 54 0.119 0.015
97 Tuscaloosa, AL 94.25 $229,560 237,761 4.65% 4.17 170 0.408 0.008
98 Bend-Redmond, OR 93.80 $202,800 170,388 6.91% 9.07 65 0.346 0.020
99 Chattanooga, TN-GA 92.60 $227,030 544,559 4.66% 5.21 152 0.264 0.021
100 Raleigh, NC 91.70 $219,220 1,242,974 6.41% 5.74 46 0.094 0.010

 

III. Expert Opinions

A medical degree is one of the most expensive to obtain. The median four-year cost to attend med school (including things like living expenses and books) was $278,455 at private schools and $207,868 at public schools for the class of 2013, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. That number is only going up – and those exorbitant costs mean many students are taking out big loans. GoodCall asked experts:

How can medical students who graduate with a large amount of student loan debt pay it off?
 

Click on the images below to read their responses!
Tom Anderson
Blaine Blontz (1)
Jacob Parish
Mark Kantrowitz (2)
Monique M. C. Prince
Barbara Bergin, M.D.

IV. Methodology

GoodCall analyzed 218 metropolitan areas and came up with an overall score based on median physician and surgeon salaries, housing affordability, area amenities, job availability, hospital density, and malpractice occurrence:

  • Salary data was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics tool and represents median salaries for physicians and surgeons in 2013. This represents 30% of our overall score.
  • The job availability rank is a combination of job availability, job density and job competition, with a lower score (1) representing the strongest job market and the highest score (218) representing the weakest job market. Job density was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and job availability and competition (resumes per available job) were taken from Indeed.com. These metrics combined represent 30% of our overall score.
  • The housing affordability index was taken from the U.S. Census American Fact Finder. This is the average percentage of income spent on housing. This represents 10% of our overall score.
  • Amenities represent the number of amenities per 1,000 housing units, and was calculated using data from the U.S. Census American Fact Finder. It includes arts, entertainment and recreation. This represents 10% of our overall score.
  • Hospital density represents the number of hospitals per 1,000 residents statewide. This data was taken from the National Practitioner Data Bank and represents 10% of our overall score.
  • Malpractice occurrence represents the number of malpractice payouts per 1,000 residents statewide. This data was taken from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and represents 10% of our overall score.

A special thank you to our contributing experts:

Tom Anderson, Wealth management professional and author of The Value of Debt in Retirement
Blaine Blontz, Former financial aid counselor and founder of Financial Aid Coach, LLC
Jacob Parish, Financial advisor at Schooner Financial Associates
Mark Kantrowitz, Senior Vice President and publisher at Edvisors.com
Monique M. C. Prince, MSW, LCSW Clinical social worker and parenting coach
Barbara Bergin, M.D., Board certified orthopedic surgeon

Images: DiscoverWisconsin.com, TripAdvisor.com, HRVAMPO.org, IndianaPublicMedia.org, Wikipedia.com, Alchetron.com, DuluthChamber.com, Bloomberg.com, Commons.Wikimedia.com, Careers.SFMC.net, JSOnline.com

Paul Southerland

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Paul is a High Point University graduate with a B.S. in Business and a B.A. in Strategic Communication. GoodCall's resident numbers guy, Paul is a digital marketing expert who has been working in data analysis for more than 3 years. Paul contributes to GoodCall News with original data and reports.

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