What are the best states for independent physicians to practice in?

For more than 10 years, Physicians Practice has ranked the states based on data “that most affect physicians’ practices.” The result, the Best States to Practice project, lists states in order, according to their performance in each of the categories measured. This year, the project also enables physicians to weight their own priorities and determine the best state for their specific practice.

To determine the ranking, Physicians Practice used the “latest data for cost of living, tax climate (state collections per capita), physician density, and Medicare’s Geographic Practice Cost Index (which adjusts physician reimbursement based on regional variation in the cost to treat patients).” They also measured the state’s residency retention rate, in partnership with Doximity, and malpractice premium averages, in partnership with the Cunningham Group.

The five states that ranked the highest in 2016, based on this data, were Mississippi, Texas, Alaska, California, and Arkansas, in that order. Mississippi is ranked highest because it “finished in the top 10 of all six metrics five times,” the highest number of all the states. Katherine Patterson, MD, of the Indianola Family Medical Group in Indianola, Mississippi, says that “the state’s actions toward tort reform, and helping underserved communities” are just two of the many reasons she has chosen to practice in the state.

Carlos Cardenas, MD, on the other hand, says that “Texas is a top place to practice medicine because of its pro-business attitude” and “credits the TMA for helping reduce regulations that make it friendlier for physicians to open up a practice in the state.”

Alaska finished in the top five in 2016 for the first time since Physicians Practice began ranking the states, “thanks to its favorable Medicare Geographic Practice Cost Index, its low tax collection and the third highest residency retention rate in the U.S.” Primary care physicians tend to stay and practice in Alaska after completing the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) project at the University of Washington.

Independent physicians can determine which is the best state for their practice based on how they weigh the factors that went into the Best States to Practice project. There is also an interactive map that provides additional details on each state’s data.