We need them to identify ailments, treat diseases and save lives. But they don't need all the hassle involved with practicing in the Garden State.

Doctors are worse off in New Jersey than anywhere else in the country, according to an analysis from personal finance website WalletHub.

On a list of the best states to practice medicine, based on an analysis of 16 key metrics, New Jersey ranked dead last.

Among the poor rankings recorded by New Jersey:

  • 41st for physicians' average annual wage (adjusted for cost of living)
  • 48th for physicians' average monthly starting salary (adjusted for cost of living)
  • 45th for quality of public health system
  • 49th for malpractice award payout amount per capita
  • 43rd for annual marketplace liability insurance rate

The average physicians' salary in New Jersey, according to the report, ranges from $141,091 for pediatricians to $235,201 for surgeons.

The delivery of care and the dedication of physicians is exceptional in the state, according to Medical Society of New Jersey CEO Larry Downs. But high costs cause a number of obstacles.

"The bottom line is New Jersey's a very expensive place to practice medicine," Downs told New Jersey 101.5.

In addition to what's noted in the WalletHub report, New Jersey is one of the only states that places a tax on doctors who open ambulatory care facilities, Downs said.

"And then the ratcheting down of payments through programs like Medicaid make New Jersey a difficult place with high expense and low reimbursement," he added.

At 44.5 percent, New Jersey's share of medical residents retained ranks 29th among the states and the District of Columbia. The report looked at the net number of medical residents added to the physician workforce.

"We can produce all the medical students in medical schools that we want to, but unless our residents that go through training programs remain in the state, we're not really doing anything for the future supply of doctors here," Donws said. "If they don't stay and practice in New Jersey, we've basically exported the best and the brightest to other parts of the country."

New Jersey provides a loan redemption program — up to $120,000 over four years — for eligible health professionals who've completed their training and agree to provide services in an underserved area for at least two years. There's currently a wait-list for interested parties.

Compared to other states, New Jersey scored well for doctors' employer-based insurance rates, as well as the number of serious disciplinary actions taken by the state medical board.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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