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Best and Worst Places to Practice to Avoid Physician Burnout


As a locum tenens physician you’re provided with the luxury of picking and choosing where you want to practice. Some parts of the country rank higher than others, as far as offering quality of life and opportunity.


The best cities boast top schools, high compensation, low tax rates, low malpractice payouts, strong economies, low density of physicians, cultural amenities and beautiful landscapes. The worst cities have high costs of living, high rates of unemployment, low compensation or unhealthy populations. While no city has all positive or negative features, the top locations offer a greater overall environment.


How does where you live contribute to a higher chance of experiencing physician burnout?


Medscape compiled a list of locations that can help avoid burnout and create a calmer and happier life. Some factors considered for the report are: fewer lawsuits, least punitive medical boards, teamwork with physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs), cultural attractions, golf amenities, and bike, pet and walk-friendly settings. Also considered were places with high malpractice rates, high divorce rates, high crime rates and traffic fatalities.


Data was compiled from sources, including its own Physician Compensation Report, CDC, Gallup and the FBI.


According to the report, here are the top five locations to practice medicine:


  1. Minneapolis, Minnesota – “Minnesota Nice” is the second happiest, the fourth most family-friendly, and the fifth most livable state. Minnesotans have the ninth highest interest in wildlife-related recreation. Not to mention, residents are the fourth healthiest population.

  2. Madison, Wisconsin – The third most livable city, and the 12th best state for golf, Wisconsin is in the top 15 for happiest state. Doctors enjoy the sixth highest income and the second highest rate of employed physicians.

  3. Sioux Falls, South Dakota –  The feel of a small town with fewer than 1 million people in the entire state, South Dakota ranks as the third best state for overall well-being and the ninth happiest. Factors that could lower physician stress include the fourth least harsh medical board and the fourth lowest number of malpractice lawsuits. Physicians here have the third highest income.

  4. Des Moines, Iowa – Stress levels in Iowa are lower than in most states. It has the lowest divorce rate and is ranked the seventh happiest and fifth most family-friendly. Iowa has the sixth highest rate of insurance coverage, so it may be easier to receive payments for services.

  5. Burlington, Vermont – The safest state in the nation, Vermont offers a calming rural life. It ranks in the top-ten for the most livable, highest well-being, and family friendly. The downside, it does have the highest cost of living. Vermont has been rated  the second healthiest state, and it has the second highest rate of insured. It also has the second highest proportion of primary care physicians making it less likely that there will be more patients than doctors can care for.


Meanwhile, the worst places to practice medicine according to the report are:


  1. New Orleans, Louisiana – the highest number of malpractice suits per capita, the least healthy population in the country, and the eighth-lowest rate of employer-sponsored health insurance.

  2. Phoenix, Arizona – An increasingly popular state in which to live, but it is the fifth least family-friendly state and the 21st least happy state. Patients have the fourth lowest rate of health insurance coverage.

  3. Las Vegas, Nevada – Is has the second-highest violent crime rate, but ranked the 25th best state for golf. The state has the third highest rate of uninsured patients and the 13th unhealthiest population.

  4. Albuquerque, New Mexico – A beautiful state with a warm climate and plenty of diversity but it has been ranked as the third least safe state. New Mexico has the lowest ratio of primary care physicians to population.

  5. Tulsa, Oklahoma – A low-cost of living, and known for friendly people and some of the best barbecue in the country, but Oklahoma has been ranked the eighth least happy state. Physicians face the second highest rate of malpractice lawsuits.