Family doctors and general practitioners are the backbone of our healthcare system. These doctors diagnose, treat, and medicate common ailments in their patients, and are often the first line of defense against medical problems. They serve as gatekeepers of our health, and refer us to specialists when more attention is needed. With health care becoming more and more complex, the need for primary care physicians has grown.
ValuePenguin has gathered and analyzed data on the best cities for doctors to practice in. Using a combination of factors from salaries, the employment concentration of the profession, and cost of living, we've developed from approximately 300 cities a list of the Top Best Cities for Doctors. Our methodology and sources for determining the best cities are after the table.
Before we begin diving into the top cities, here are some salary and employment facts for family and general physicians. The average salary for doctors, which ValuePenguin uses as the basis for the rankings, is $179,651 in the United States as of May 2012. The average salary ranges widely from city to city, starting at $60,160 in Mayaguez in Puerto Rico to $244,180 in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area of Iowa. There are about 86,000 family and general practitioners operating in the United States as of May 2012. The job outlook for doctors is bright; jobs are projected to grow 24% from 2010 - 2020, which is ten percentage points above the national job growth of 14% for all occupations.
For More Information: General Physician Salary
Top Five Best Cities for Doctors
1. North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL
The metropolitan area of North Port, Bradenton, and Sarasota in Florida tops our best cities for doctors. These are three quintessential Floridian towns for doctors to hang their shingles in. The average salary for doctors in this area is $228,190, and with a cost of living of 92, earnings can be stretched well. Doctors practicing in North Port will have access to rolling green hills in golf courses and country clubs. Bradenton has a beautiful nature preserve and adventure course for active and outdoorsy physicians. With miles of shoreline, eco-tourism, and marine attractions, Sarasota also has a lot to offer practicing doctors.
2. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA
Des Moines and West Des Moines rank #2 on our list. These two cities have a combined population of 264,500, 690 of whom are family and general practitioners. Doctors in Des Moines and West Des Moines report an average salary of $224,930. After work, doctors practicing here can unwind on trails, lakes, water sports, wineries, and breweries. Perhaps they'll even be able to resist the lure of the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival as well!
Read more about Iowa on our State Profile
3. St. Joseph, MO
Coming in at #3 is St. Joseph in Missouri, where doctors earn an average salary of $230,920 and enjoy the second lowest cost of living index in our top twenty list of 86. This city was once the starting point of the Pony Express, and is today the home of the Kansas City Chief's summer training camp, festivals and farmers' markets, and numerous outdoor recreation attractions.
4. La Crosse, WI
Located along the Wisconsin State Trail, La Crosse, WI has the second highest concentration of doctors on our top twenty list - four and a half times as many as the typical city in America. Doctors who practice here will be in good company as there are 270 peers. Based on the latest reports, the average annual wage for a family or general practitioner in La Cross, Wi, is $210,130. After hours, doctors can fish and canoe at Black River Beach, or relax in La Crosse's many parks.
5. Portsmouth, NH
Rounding out our top five is Portsmouth, NH. While it has the highest reported average salary for doctors in our Top 20 list of $243,400, it also has the highest cost of living index of 137. Portsmouth was once a strategic seaport and shipbuilding center, and the city retains much of its historical and quaint character today at places such as the Market Square and its state parks and beaches.
Top Best Cities for Doctors
|Rank||City||Average Salary||Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living||Score|
|1||North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL||$228,190||670||3.32||92||93%|
|2||Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA||224,930||690||2.51||91||93|
|3||St. Joseph, MO||230,920||80||1.97||86||92|
|4||La Crosse, WI||210,130||270||4.58||94||89|
|6||Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR||228,450||530||1.88||89||88|
|9||Muskegon-Norton Shores, MI||198,670||180||3.69||84||86|
|11||Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL||222,540||1,180||1.95||97||86|
|14||Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL||219,760||320||1.83||92||85|
|15||Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ||212,870||70||1.91||93||85|
|19||Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL||214,700||240||1.46||86||81|
|20||Las Cruces, NM||195,030||280||4.96||93||81|
Methodology & Sources
We ranked U.S. cities based on three key questions:
1. How much money do professionals make in the city?
We ranked the best cities for doctors based on the average annual pay as a substantial factor in the decision process for people looking for work. Of course, a high salary for a doctor in an expensive city may not outweigh a lower salary in an affordable town. That's why we posed our second question...
2. How expensive is it to live there?
In conjunction with the average annual salary for doctors in a city, cost of living helps determine how far your dollar will go. For this particular variable, cities with lower cost of living ranked highly in our study.
3. What is the location quotient of this profession in the city?
A town with a high average salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our study factors in cities with high family doctor and general practitioner location quotient. Location quotient measures the concentration of a particular occupation in the city as a proportion of all occupations relative to the national average. We infer a higher location quotient to mean a relatively higher demand for a profession's services.
1. Average Salary: cities with the highest average annual salary for doctors, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data as of May 2012
2. Cost of Living: cities with the lowest cost of living, with data sourced from Sperling's Best Places COL Calculator. Data as of July 2013
3. Employment: cities with the highest location quotient metrics, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data as of May 2012
Photo Courtesy: Flickr / tabor-roeder