WITH THE ENORMOUS INVESTMENT of time and resources that goes into becoming a doctor, choosing a place to practice deserves careful consideration. As the Affordable Care Act and insurance reform continue to be critical issues in the realm of Florida healthcare, the rapidly evolving economic and legal landscape will play a role in where to hang your shingle. WalletHub has surveyed the medical industry landscape across all 50 states, and released a study titled “2016 Best and Worst States for Doctors.”
So, where does Florida fall in those rankings? Overall, Florida ranked 16th on the list. For the Medical Quality ranking, the Sunshine State earned the 24th spot and, most notably, ranked 10th in the nation for Competition and Opportunity. In addition, Florida ranked 17th for the highest average monthly salary for doctors, at $3,800, which can help attract new physicians.
The information analyzed was gathered from a mix of public and private organizations, including census data, labor statistics, and malpractice claims. Some of the factors considered were the mean annual wage of physicians, the number of hospitals per 100,000 residents, and malpractice issues. These aspects and more were taken into account and given various weights to produce the final analysis.
“We found that high-ranking states are able to provide robust opportunities for doctors, from higher starting salaries to less competition when applying for a new position. They also tend to have more relaxed state medical boards and low malpractice payouts,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez says.
On the local level, instances that reflect these opportunities can be found. “With over nine million people within a 100-mile radius and located at the heart of Florida’s Super Region, Polk County is an ideal location for patient-based research,” observes David Petr, president and CEO of the Central Florida Development Council. Petr is not surprised by Florida’s number 10 ranking in the nation for Competition and Opportunity, as evidenced by the region’s own explosive growth in life sciences and the medical segments.
“All around Polk County, we can observe further proof that the region offers increasing competition and opportunity for doctors and healthcare professionals,” he points out. “For example, Lakeland Regional Health has recently received a national accolade as a healthcare employer; Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center currently works with Nemours Children’s Hospital to provide specialized pediatric care to the region; and both Winter Haven Hospital and Bartow Regional Medical Center, BayCare Health System members, are making extensive facility improvements and technological advancements.”
Coinciding with this growth is an increasing demand for doctors in the state. “As it stands now, the competition among doctors in Florida is fairly low, with just two physicians for every 1,000 residents,” Gonzalez states . That fact played into the 10th rank that Florida landed in the Competition and Opportunity category of the study.
Furthermore, Gonzalez explains some factors at work in Florida that most likely will contribute to drawing in new medical professionals. A renowned haven for retirees, as the Baby Boomer generation ages out of the workforce and heads south, the state’s population will continue to grow. By 2030, Florida is projected to have the highest percentage of population over age 65, at 27 percent. Doctors within that age group also will be retiring, leaving openings in the workforce for younger professionals to fill, she reports.
Both the newly retired physicians and those embarking on a new career are attracted to Central Florida, and Petr is quick to account for one reason why. “As one of Polk County’s fastest-growing industries, and with five major medical centers as well as a host of specialty clinics,” Petr concludes, “our region is sure to continue making a direct impact on the competition and opportunity in the state.”
article by TERESA SCHIFFER