By Damian Dominguez
Doctors are hearing a call that is drawing them to South Carolina. The Palmetto state was listed as the best state for doctors to work in by a personal finance website.
Although the study by WalletHub ranked South Carolina third in work environment and eighth in opportunity and competition, its overall ranking put it in first place, just ahead of second-place Minnesota and Texas in third.
The study looked at 12 key elements that the study organized into two groups: opportunity/competition and work environment. Opportunity was measured with metrics such as average starting salary and wage disparity, while measuring competition used metrics such as the number of hospitals and physicians per capita. The work environment was measured through the number of serious disciplinary actions by state medical boards and malpractice.
Eileen Korpita, director of pre-professional advising at the University of South Carolina, said South Carolina may be appealing in part because of what residency programs pay.
“Palmetto Health Richland is very well known for their residency programs,” she said.
Residencies across the state pay well above average, she said, and that’s one reason why South Carolina medical students tend to seek work within the state.
Korpita said what’s most surprising is that pre-medical enrollment at USC has been increasing consistently, despite students being advised otherwise by medical professionals.
“Every day I get a student in my office telling me that the doctor they’re shadowing told them ‘do not go into medicine,’ that if they had the chance, they wouldn’t do it all again,” she said.
Part of the concern, Korpita said, is that the Affordable Care Act has made many physicians wary of continuing their career. But that hasn’t stopped growth, she said. She said that the numbers have grown every year for the past five years for applications for pre-med students.
The fact that doctors and medical students would want to stay in South Carolina was no surprise to Andrew Vaughan, a USC medical student working with Palmetto Health Richland. For him, the main draw for staying in the state is that he was born here. He said that’s the reason a lot of students stick around.
“I love this state, and I love being here,” he said.
He said that the salary and working hours were less impotant than the training and education provided in the state, which he described as “unparalleled” in the region.
“The quality of training pulls people to South Carolina, and then they want to stay here,” he said.