[Vision2020] States Where Doctors Earn the Most (and Least)

Kenneth Marcy kmmos1 at frontier.com
Mon Apr 4 05:16:18 PDT 2016

States Where Doctors Earn the Most (and Least)


Medical doctors consistently rank among the highest compensated 
professions in the country. In every state, an average primary care 
physician earns at least $166,000 more than the average salary across 
all occupations. However, how much doctors earn varies greatly depending 
on location and specialty.

The average primary care physician’s annual salary ranges from roughly 
$205,000 in West Virginia to $330,000 in Alaska. In order to determine 
the states where doctors earn the highest and lowest salaries, 24/7 Wall 
St. reviewed 2014 and 2015 salary data provided by Doximity, an online 
social networking service for U.S. doctors.

While health insurance coverage and health care spending per capita 
varies widely across states, such factors do not appear to bear a strong 
relationship with doctors’ salaries. Rather, basic economic forces 
largely determine doctor salaries in each state.

Click here to see the states where doctors earn the most (and least).  

In keeping with the laws of supply and demand, doctor salaries tend to 
be higher where there are fewer doctors. There are roughly 127 primary 
care physicians for every 100,000 Americans nationwide. In all but three 
of the 25 states where doctors earn the most, there are fewer primary 
care physicians per capita than there are nationwide. Conversely, there 
are more primary care physicians per capita than there are nationwide in 
a majority of the states on the lower end of the doctor pay scale.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Joel Davis, a spokesperson for 
Doximity, explained that the physical location and desirability of a 
state as a place to live can also play a role in a physician’s pay. Pay 
needs to be higher in order to “get physicians to take a job in Alaska, 
for instance, as compared to getting somebody to take a job in … New 
York or California or [another] coastal state,” said Davis. Indeed, 19 
of the states where primary care physicians earn the lowest salaries are 
coastal states, while the majority of states with doctors earning the 
highest average salaries have no oceanic or great lake coastline.

The presence of medical schools in a given state can increase the number 
of doctors, and consequently, affect the average doctor’s salary, Davis 
explained. “States with more medical schools tend to produce more 
doctors, and there’s a higher propensity for those doctors to stay in 
state.” To be sure, 18 of the 25 highest paying states for doctors are 
home to schools enrolling fewer medical students per capita than the 
national enrollment ratio. In West Virginia, the state with the lowest 
average pay for primary care physicians, there are 84 medical students 
for every 100,000 residents, the largest share in the country and more 
than double the corresponding national figure.

Along with geography, specialty also plays a considerable role in pay 
disparity among medical doctors. On average, specialists earn higher 
salaries than primary care physicians in every state. “Somebody who 
specializes has a greater degree of knowledge and skill … within a 
specific subdomain,” Davis said. Perhaps as a result, there are “fewer 
of them and they get paid more to do what they do.” Incomes still vary 
greatly among these higher paid positions. While the average pediatric 
endocrinologist earns roughly $185,000 annually, for example, neuro and 
thoracic surgeons each earn average salaries of well over half a million 

In order to determine the states paying doctors the most and least, 24/7 
Wall St. reviewed physician pay data from Doximity, an online social 
networking service for U.S. physicians. Doximity compiled doctor pay 
data from surveys of more than 35,000 doctors across the U.S. in 49 
different specialties in 2014 and 2015. Average pay by state across all 
occupations came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the most 
recent available year. We also considered medical school enrollment data 
by state from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The 
number of primary care physicians per capita came from the Health 
Resources and Services Administration. Rates of insurance coverage were 
provided by County Health Rankings.

*35. Idaho**
**> Avg. doctor salary: $246,000**
**> Avg. medical specialist salary: $429,000**
**> Avg. salary for all occupations: $39,770**
**> Primary care physicians (per 100,000 residents): 81.5 (the lowest)**
**> Health care spending per capita: $5,658 (4th lowest)**
**> Uninsured rate: 18.8% (14th highest)*



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