New Jersey is the second worst state for doctors in the U.S., according to a report released on March 30 by

Catherine Yeulet, ThinkStock

The study used 12 key metrics to measure the attractiveness of practicing in a state that ranged from average annual salaries and salary disparities to patient population size and state medical board punitiveness.

South Carolina was ranked the best for doctors, while Rhode Island was ranked the worst.

Low wages, when adjusted for cost of living, helped bring down New Jersey's attractiveness for doctors. According to the survey, New Jersey was ranked 44th in average starting salary, 45th in average annual wages and 46th in physician wage disparity.

And while low wages helped contribute to the state's low ranking, the cost of medical malpractice insurance was also to blame.

"Premiums can run from $10,000 to $15,000 at the lower end, and upwards of $100,000 for high-risk practitioners," said Larry Downs, CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey.

Making matters worse, according to Downs, is the fact that New Jersey is a very litigious state.

Downs said doctors are a little gun shy about being sued, even when they know they're practicing prudent, caring medicine. "That causes physicians some pause when it comes to considering whether to practice here or not."

Despite the high cost of medical malpractice insurance in the state, the survey ranked New Jersey 50th in malpractice payouts per capita.

Medical professionals also complain about what they perceive as a strong dose of overregulation in New Jersey.

"We have in the past 10 to 15 years, many more state and insurance company mandates on physicians that make this a much more difficult place (to practice) than it has been historically."

All states, including New Jersey, are in competition with each other to attract the best and brightest physicians, according to Downs.

"The environment in which they practice is something that is an important decision point for doctors. So making practice easier and more efficient here is an important part of the work of the medical society," Downs said.