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If you need to find a doctor, your chances are especially good in Massachusetts, Vermont, or Rhode Island. They each have more active physicians per capita than any other state.
If you need to find a female doctor, your chances are better than average in Maryland and Oregon, while your odds of seeing a doctor under 40 years old are particularly strong in Michigan and Nebraska.
If you’re a medical student in parts of the South, you’re particularly likely to attend medical school in your home state, while students in several Northern states are more likely to get their medical education farther from home.
Those are among the statistical insights from the AAMC’s just-released State Physician Workforce Data Report for 2021. The biennial report provides the most current data about physicians, medical students, medical residents, and fellows for every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. This year’s report presents data for MDs and DOs.
Below are some of the highlights. These figures are for 2020, and for MDs and DOs combined, unless otherwise noted.
Physicians in patient care
The states with the highest number of active physicians per capita are concentrated in the Northeast. For those active physicians who reported direct patient care as their type of practice, the national ratio is 247.5 for every 100,000 people.
- Among states with the highest direct patient care physicians per capita ratios: Massachusetts, 362.1; Vermont, 337.5; Rhode Island, 330.9.
- Among states with the lowest direct patient care physicians per capita ratios: Mississippi, 178.6; Idaho, 183.8; Nevada, 190.2.
Active general surgeons
There are more than twice as many surgeons per capita in Maine than in Idaho. Nationwide, there are 7.6 general surgeons for every 100,000 people.
- Among states with the highest per capita ratios are Maine with 11.9, Vermont with 11.5, and North Dakota with 10.4.
- Among states with the lowest per capita ratios are Idaho with 5.5, Nevada with 5.7, and Oklahoma at 5.8.
Female physicians make up 36.7% of the nation’s active physicians. They account for about 40% of active doctors in some states, while they account for less than 30% in others.
- Among states with the highest percentages: Maryland, 42.0%; Oregon, 40.2%; New Mexico, 39.8%.
- Among states with the lowest percentages: Utah, 25.4%; Arkansas, 29.0%; Alabama, 29.3%.
The nation’s physician workforce is aging, with 33.7% of active physicians now 60 years old and above. At the same time, 16.3% of active physicians are under 40 years old.
- Among states with the highest percentages of active physicians 60 and older are Hawaii with 39.3%, New Mexico at 39.2%, and New Jersey with 38.8%.
- Among states with the highest percentages of active physicians under 40 are Michigan with 20.9%, Nebraska at 20.0%, and Ohio with 19.5%.
Race and ethnicity
This year’s report provides state and national data on active physicians by racial and ethnic categories. Physicians can identify in more than one category, as “Other,” or as none. The national percentages are:
- Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: 0.2%.
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.4%.
- Black or African American: 5.3%.
- Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin: 5.4%.
- Asian: 19.1%.
- White: 59.1%.
Here are the states that have the highest percentages of active physicians within specific racial and ethnic categories:
- Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: Hawaii, 2.9%; Arkansas, 1.0%.
- American Indian or Alaska Native: Oklahoma, 4.9%; North Dakota, 2.6%.
- Black or African American: Georgia, 16.3%; Maryland, 12.3%.
- Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin: Florida, 15.8%; New Mexico, 14.6%.
- Asian: Hawaii, 44.0%; California, 31.0%.
- White: Idaho, 86.3%; Montana, 84.0%.
Physicians from other countries
About one-quarter (24.7%) of active physicians in 2020 were international medical graduates (IMGs); that is, they graduated from a medical school outside the United States, Puerto Rico, or Canada. (This includes U.S. citizens who studied abroad.)
- Among states with the highest percentages of IMGs: New Jersey, 38.4%; New York, 37.1%; Florida, 35.9%.
- Among states with the lowest percentages of IMGs: Montana, 6.6%; Alaska, 6.7%; Colorado, 8.5%.
Student enrollment increases
There were 92,670 students enrolled in MD-granting schools in 2020-21 and 31,663 enrolled in DO-granting schools in 2019-20 (the latest year for which figures were available) — a combined increase of 30.2% since 2010-11. One state, Oklahoma, saw a decrease (2.0%).
- Among states with the highest increases are New Mexico with 208.1%, Alabama with 127.3%, and South Carolina with 109.6%.
Nationally, there are 37.9 enrolled MD and DO students for every 100,000 people.
- Among states with the highest ratios: West Virginia, 89.1; Missouri, 74.2; Pennsylvania, 64.8.
- Among states with the lowest ratios: Oregon, 16.1; Utah, 16.3; Idaho, 18.5.
Students staying close to home
Maybe it’s the Southern cuisine or warmer weather, but medical students from parts of the South are the most likely to study medicine within their states. Nationally, 60.2% of new students in MD-granting schools matriculated within their home states for the 2020-2021 academic year.
- Among states with the highest percentages of new matriculating students from within that state: West Virginia, 91.2%; South Carolina, 89.0%; Louisiana, 88.8%.
- Among states with the lowest percentages of new matriculating students from within that state: New Hampshire, 12.5%; Colorado, 24.1%; Maryland, 24.8%.
Medical residents and fellows
Some 143,840 medical school graduates were continuing their training and education in 2020 as medical residents and fellows in training programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education — an increase of 27.2% since 2010.
- Among states with the most residents and fellows for every 100,000 residents are New York at 95.4, Massachusetts with 86.4, and Rhode Island at 80.9.
- Among states with the fewest residents and fellows for every 100,000 residents are Alaska at 5.1, Wyoming with 7.4, and Montana at 7.6.