The physician and surgeon occupation has historically been a stable career, dating back thousands of years to prehistoric times when “doctors” first used plants to heal illnesses. Fast forward to today, and doctors still carry the same mission to diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses through various medical practices. Doctors are the first in-person resource whenever you, a family member, or close friend falls ill or has a major accident. Doctors track medical histories, prescribe medicine, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, and advise patients on general healthcare practices. In this occupation, there are two primary degrees: M.D. (Medical Doctor) and D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). Both degrees focus on similar methods of treatments, but the latter degree emphasizes holistic patient care.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 757,000 physician and surgeon jobs in the U.S. The field is growing at a 7% rate, which is faster than the average growth rate across other professions in the nation. But where are the best opportunities for doctors?
Our study at AdvisorSmith ranked 317 U.S. cities to determine the most attractive cities for doctors to pursue their careers in. We list the top 50 cities for doctors below, and we also break down the top small, midsize, and large cities for this profession.
Our analysis found that most of the best cities for doctors are midsize cities. Of the top 50 cities, 56% of them were midsize, 34% were small, and only 10% were large cities. A majority of the top cities were located in the midwest and east coast. Midsize cities won out in our study, with 28 out of the top 50 cities having metropolitan area populations between 150,000 and 500,000.
Top Cities for Doctors by City Size
Our study segments cities into different sizes based on population, listing the top 10 small (population under 150,000), midsize (population of 150,000-500,000), and large (greater than 500,000 population) cities for doctors.
Best Cities for Doctors
1. Janesville, WI
Janesville is located in southern Wisconsin, near the border of Illinois and along Interstate 90. The overall metropolitan area including Beloit has a population of 163,000 people. Janesville offers the small-town feel with affordable living and close proximity to Madison and Milwaukee.
There are a diversity of employment opportunities in Janesville, including manufacturing, public service, education, healthcare, transportation, and construction.
Mercyhealth and St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital are two of the top healthcare employers in the area. Mercyhealth is a non-profit healthcare provider and hospital system with over 85 facilities throughout southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Mercyhealth operates over four areas: hospital-based service, clinic service, post-acute care, and retail.
St. Mary’s Hospital is part of SSM Health, a not-for-profit healthcare system with 11,000 providers and 39,000 employees. The healthcare system operates in four states, including Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Missouri. SSM Health provides a variety of care, including outpatient centers, surgery centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, emergency centers, rehabilitation facilities, urgent care, home care, and hospice care. In 2013, Dean Health System merged with SSM Health, expanding their services with more than 100 multi-specialty physicians.
Janesville hosts 133% more jobs for doctors on a per-capita basis compared with the U.S. average. Doctors in Janesville also earn on average $270,640 per year, 33% higher than the national average.
2. Terre Haute, IN
Terre Haute is located just an hour and a half southwest of Indianapolis. The metropolitan area known as the Wabash Valley has a population greater than 170,000. The area includes four counties: Vigo, Clay, Sullivan, and Vermillion County. The top employment industries are manufacturing, retail, education, and healthcare. The city is a well-known healthcare hub, employing more than 8,000 health and wellness workers in the county with a $46 million annual payroll. There are medical trainings offered through various institutions such as State University’s College of Health and Human Services, Ivy Tech Community College Nursing, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, and Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health.
There are two main healthcare systems in the community: Union Health and Terre Haute Regional Hospital. Union Health is an integrated health system comprising of Union Hospital, Union Medical Group, and Union Hospital Clinton.
Both Union Health and Terre Haute Regional have a diversity of offerings for the community. Union Hospital is a Level 3 trauma center with over 130 providers and 20 medical specialties. Terre Haute Regional Hospital is a Level 2 trauma center and a 278-bed community-based medical center. The hospital provides 24-hour coverage by general surgeons, as well as other medical specialties including anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, critical care, orthopedic surgery, and neurosurgery.
Doctors in Terre Haute earn an average annual salary of $257,130, which is 26% higher than the national average. The city also hosts 72% more physician and surgeon jobs per capita compared with the U.S. average.
3. Albany, GA
Albany is located in the southwest region of Georgia and is the principal city of the metropolitan area. The overall metropolitan area has a population of over 150,000, which includes Dougherty, Terrell, Lee, Worth, and Baker Counties. The predominant industries in the area are manufacturing, retail trade, healthcare, and food services. Major employers include Procter & Gamble, AT&T, UPS, Mars Incorporated, Miller Brewing, and Merck. Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Albany Area Primary Health Care are the two main healthcare systems in the area.
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is one of the largest employers in the southwest, and recently, Forbes named the hospital as one of the best employers in the state. The hospital is part of the Phoebe Putney Memorial Health System, which is a not-for-profit network with more than 4,500 physicians, nurses, professional staff, and volunteers. The health system operates over 41 counties and specializes in cardiovascular care, oncology, orthopaedics, and women’s health.
Albany Area Primary Health Care (AAPHC) is one of the community’s largest health centers in southwest Georgia. The center provides patients with services including internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, podiatry, and pediatrics. AAPHC is also a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home, as recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, meaning it has earned the highest level of recognition demonstrating comprehensive and coordinated care across a team of healthcare professionals.
Albany has twice the number of jobs for doctors per capita compared to the U.S. average. Doctors in Albany earn an average annual salary of $275,310 which is 35% higher than the national average. The city also boasts of a cost of living that is 16% lower than the national average.
4. Killeen, TX
Killeen is located in the center of Texas along Interstate 35 and between Waco and Austin. The metropolitan area has a population greater than 450,000, which includes Lampasas, Bell, and Coryell Counties. Known as a military boomtown, the city had a rapid growth spurt because of the high influx of soldiers located at Fort Hood and training centers in Bell and Coryell Counties. Apart from Fort Hood, other major employers include Killeen Independent School District, Central Texas College, AdventHealth, and the City of Killeen.
AdventHealth Central Texas, formerly known as Metroplex Adventist Hospital, offers a variety of services including cardiovascular care, behavioral health, digestive care, men’s health, women’s health, lab services, orthopedic care, senior care, surgical care, emergency and urgent care, and sports and rehab care. The center serves over 140,000 patients per year and employs more than 300 physicians offering 43 different medical services. Overall, the AdventHealth network has more than 80,000 employees across 50 hospital campuses in ten states. Recently, AdventHealth acquired the Family Medicine Clinics in Copperas Cove and Lampasas, expanding their service across the region and into more family medicine.
Doctors in Killeen earn an average salary of $231,480, which is 14% higher than the national average. The city also hosts 152% more physician and surgeon jobs per capita than the national average and boasts a cost of living that is 18% lower than the rest of the nation.
5. Dothan, AL
Dothan is situated in the southeast corner of the state bordering Florida and Georgia. The city is the county seat of Houston County and the seventh largest city in the state. The metropolitan area is comprised of Dale, Henry, and Houston Counties. The top employers in the city include Southeast Health, Dothan City and Houston County Schools, Flowers Hospital, City of Dothan, and Southern Nuclear.
Southeast Health and Flowers Hospital are the two main hospitals in the area. Southeast Health is the city’s public hospital on the eastern side, and Flowers Hospital is a private hospital on the western side. Southeast Health has over 700 physicians and 327 beds, providing services ranging from behavioral health to wound care. To address the state’s shortage of physicians, Southeast Health, in 2013, helped open the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, the state’s first college of osteopathic medicine.
Flowers Hospital has over 250 physicians and is a regional referral center for the 450,000 people living within a 50-mile radius of the facility. The hospital has 235 beds, four ICUs, 38 outpatient surgery beds and offers a variety of medical services, including cardiovascular care, critical care, neurology, bariatric medicine, orthopedic care, sleep care, surgical care, women’s health, and digestive care.
Doctors in Dothan earn an average salary of $267,090, which is 31% higher than the national average. The city hosts 24% more jobs for doctors on a per-capita basis compared with the U.S. average and boasts a cost of living that is 18% lower than the rest of the nation.
Top 50 Cities for doctors
Below, we list the top cities for doctors. We include data on the total number of jobs, the number of jobs per capita, average annual salaries, and the cost of living.
|Rank||City||City Size||Average Annual Salary||Total Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living|
|2||Terre Haute, IN||Midsize||$257,130||310||1.72||80|
|9||Fond du Lac, WI||Small||$288,460||110||0.91||88|
|14||Sierra Vista, AZ||Small||$264,360||130||1.53||91|
|24||Johnson City, TN||Midsize||$203,120||470||2.28||83|
|25||New Bern, NC||Small||$263,590||140||1.16||91|
|39||Great Falls, MT||Small||$253,770||110||1.18||95|
|43||Palm Bay, FL||Large||$242,880||870||1.51||97|
|49||Glens Falls, NY||Small||$248,320||150||1.07||96|
AdvisorSmith’s study examined three key variables in determining the best cities for doctors to pursue their careers in.
1. Average annual salaries for doctors
For the purposes of this study, we focus on doctors who are physicians and surgeons, excluding specialty occupations such as chiropractors, dentists, podiatrists, nurses, and optometrists.
We considered the average annual salary earned by doctors in each city in our study. The higher the average salary, the more highly we ranked a given metro area. The average salary for doctors in our study was $203,880.
2. Density of jobs for doctors in each city
Our study leveraged a location quotient, which represents the number of jobs available to doctors, relative to the national average. Cities with a higher location quotient have a higher concentration of jobs for doctors, which means more career opportunities and more demand for doctors in those cities. Cities with higher location quotients ranked more highly in our study.
In 2018, there were 757,000 physicians and surgeons employed in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for doctors will grow at a 7% pace over the 10-year period of 2018-2028, which is faster than the national job growth outlook.
3. Cost of living index for each city
We adjusted the salaries earned by doctors in each city by a cost of living multiplier. The cost of living, including necessities such as rent, transportation, and groceries, varies by city, so it is important to normalize the salaries so that the cities can be compared fairly. Cities with more affordable lifestyles were ranked more highly in our study.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
 Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index