The 10 Best Cities for Medical School GraduatesSeptember 15, 2020
By Ben Luthi
Ben Luthi has been a freelance writer since 2013, covering all things money and travel. His work has appeared in many major publications and financial websites, including U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, Fox Business, Experian, FICO and more. Ben lives in Utah with his two kids, and loves spending his free time traveling, hiking and talking about credit cards.
Graduating from medical school is just one milestone in the quest to become a physician. Your next step is likely a residency, and for some, the process may also include a fellowship and board certification.
Regardless of where you ultimately end up, though, it’s crucial to take your time when deciding where to start that process. To help you narrow down your list of options, we looked at HospitalCareers.com to get an idea of the best cities for medical school graduates.
Determining Best Cities for Medical School Graduates
It’s difficult to create a definitive list of the best cities for medical school graduates because the right city for you may depend on your field of expertise, your personal preferences and several other factors.
But in its list, HospitalCareers.com provides a comprehensive view of what’s important to medical graduates. That includes cities with the best hospitals and job markets, places with a relatively low cost of living and more.
10. Rochester, Minnesota
For many healthcare professionals, the primary pull of Rochester is that it’s home to the No. 1 hospital in the country: the Mayo Clinic. The city also has a relatively small population of just under 120,000, which could make it more manageable for medical graduates who aren’t used to a big city.
The city’s cost of living is 94.1% the national average, making it a solid choice for new graduates who are gaining their financial footing. Plus, according to medical professional networking service Doximity, the nearby Minneapolis metropolitan area has one of the highest average physician salaries in the country at $369,889.
9. Jacksonville, Florida
While Rochester, Minnesota, is home to the Mayo Clinic headquarters, the medical center has a campus in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville is a much larger city, with a population of more than 900,000. But you won’t have to worry about dealing with the cost of a larger city — Jacksonville’s cost of living is even lower than Rochester’s at 93.5% the national average.
Despite being a low-cost area, medical graduates don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy one of the top 10 physician salaries in the country. According to Doximity, it’s $338,790. What’s more, the city has the fifth-smallest gender wage gap between male and female physicians.
8. Durham, North Carolina
Durham, North Carolina, has one of the lowest average physician salaries in the nation at $266,180. But for graduating medical students, working at one of the best university hospitals in the nation, Duke, can be incredibly appealing. The medical center is ranked nationally for 11 adult specialties and nine children specialties.
Also, like Rochester and Jacksonville, Durham has a relatively low cost of living at 95.2% the national average, which means your salary will go further than most areas in the U.S. The city of Durham is home to roughly 280,000 people.
7. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston isn’t just known for being the capital of higher education in the U.S. It’s also home to some of the most well-known medical centers in the country, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
The former is ranked No. 12 overall in the nation, while the latter ranks in the top three hospitals in the nation for psychiatry, diabetes and endocrinology, and rehabilitation.
The only reason to think twice about Boston is its cost of living, which is 162.4% the national average. Also, its average physician salary is relatively low, at $305,634. The city’s population is just under 693,000.
6. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is one of the most culture-rich cities on our list, especially if you love music. It’s also home to another excellent university hospital, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which ranks nationally in seven adult specialties and 10 child specialties.
The city’s cost of living is 101.4% the national average, which isn’t a deal-breaker but is something to consider. That said, the average annual physician salary is on the high end at $337,914. The Nashville-Davidson area is home to more than 670,000 people.
5. Austin, Texas
Austin is the fastest-growing big city in America, which means a lot of opportunity. Its population is just short of 1 million people, which also makes it one of the largest cities on our list. And according to U.S. News & World Report, it ranks as the No. 1 place to live in America.
Some of the largest hospitals in the city include St. David’s Medical Center, which was the first health system in the state to be recognized as Employer of the Year by the Texas Workforce Commission, and Cornerstone Hospital of Austin.
The city’s cost of living is 119.3% the national average, which could be a non-starter for some. Also, the average salary for physicians in Austin is relatively low, at $299,297.
4. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City isn’t known for its world-renowned hospitals. Its healthcare industry, however, is among the fastest-growing in the city, with an expected 30% jump over the next 10 years. This means a lot of opportunity for recent medical graduates.
What’s more, the state’s capital has one of the lowest cost of living on our list at 85.4% of the national average. According to Salary.com, the average physician salary in the area is $254,195, which is low compared to the other cities on our list but compared with many cities with high costs of living, your money could go further here.
Oklahoma City is home to 655,000 residents.
3. Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City’s average physician salary of $351,300 ranks No. 11 in the country, making it an ideal destination for many medical graduates. It’s also an excellent choice if you enjoy outdoor adventures.
The state of Utah has one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, which means you won’t have too much trouble finding a job. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s unemployment rate sits at 4.5% for July 2020, compared with 10.2% overall in the U.S. However, the city’s cost of living is 118.9% the national average, which could be a deal-breaker.
Despite being the state’s capital, Salt Lake City has only 200,000 residents.
2. San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is the largest city on our list, with more than 1.5 million residents. Despite its size, the city has a cost of living that’s just 89.4% of the national average. That said, the average annual salary for physicians is also relatively low, at $276,224.
In terms of stability, roughly 18% of San Antonio residents work in healthcare or bioscience, making the city a safe bet for recent medical school graduates. Some of the best medical centers in the city include Methodist Hospital-San Antonio, Baptist Medical Center and University Hospital-San Antonio.
1. Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland sits atop our list for a few reasons. First, it’s home to the Cleveland Clinic, which has been ranked the second-best hospital in the country behind the Mayo Clinic. Second, the city boasts five large hospitals, which employ more than 100,000 people combined. That’s more than 25% of the city’s population, which sits at about 381,000.
Finally, Cleveland has the lowest cost of living on our list of the best cities for medical school graduates — it’s an impressive 72.6% of the national average. One thing to keep in mind is that the average physician salary in the city is $312,448. But considering the low cost of living, that salary will go further than most of the top salaries in other cities.
How to choose where to live when you graduate from medical school
Making the decision on where to live after you leave medical school can be challenging. Depending on the residency process and other requirements for your field, your options may be limited based on your specialty. If you have multiple options, though, it’s important to take your time and research all of the factors that are important to you.
For example, consider the quality of the healthcare system, as well as the opportunities that might be available to you. Also, look at average salaries in the area and how they compare with the cost of living. Finally, remember that you not only have to work in one of these cities, but also live. Think about your personal preferences and the quality of life you’ll be able to enjoy in each place to make a decision.
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