Best & Worst States for Locum Tenens Doctors in 2021

WalletHub’s new analysis ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 19 metrics to determine which are the best for doctors in 2021

(Edited from March 22, 2021 articles by John S. Kiernan, WalletHub, and by Keith A. Reynolds & Logan Lutton, Medical Economics)

Among the most essential professionals, especially during a pandemic, doctors fight COVID-19’s spread on the front lines and administer vaccines that, eventually, will help return life to “normal.” Containing coronavirus will help America heal both physically and economically.

Most doctors are well-compensated for their roles in keeping patients healthy. They are among the highest-paid and most-educated professionals in our country. In fact, many physician jobs were among the highest-paying of 2020, with general physicians reporting a mean salary of $196,490 per year. The high salary makes sense, given their work’s importance and the responsibility and liability that come with it.

However, doctors don’t start out wealthy: The average medical-school debt is around $215,000.

To help doctors decide where to practice, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 19 key metrics. Its data set ranged from the average annual physician wage to the number of hospitals per capita to public hospital system quality. Follow the links to review the complete ranking, additional expert commentary, and a full description of WalletHub’s methodology.

Best States to Practice Medicine

Overall Rank StateTotal Score Opportunity & Competition Medical Environment 
7North Dakota64.212823


What States Pay the Most for Locum Tenens Physicians?

According to a March 1, 2020, post on, “Locumstory partnered with two of the largest locum tenens staffing agencies to compare the average pay per day by state for locum tenens physicians in 2019*. While the pay rates for individual assignments and specialties may vary, here are the highest-paying states for locum tenens physicians compared to the national median.

Best-Paying States for Locum Tenens* **

Overall RankStatePercent of National Median
6South Dakota114%
9North Dakota108%

* Based on 2019 data.
** Doesn’t include all medical-practice factors calculated into WalletHub analysis.

If your minds work like ours do, you might be thinking, ‘Hmm, which states rank on both lists?’ Answer: Kansas, Idaho, Tennessee, Nebraska, North Dakota.

Food for thought, no?