Strong growth in physicians licensed in Minnesota

The Federation of State Medical Boards released their latest biennial report on the number of doctors licensed to practice medicine in American in 2016.  Assuming having more doctors is a good thing, then Minnesota is doing better.

The number of doctors licensed in Minnesota increased from 20,174 in 2012 to 23,494 in 2016.  This represents a 16.5 percent increase, a substantial jump in just four years.  This was the eleventh highest rate of change in the country.  States with stronger growth are all either Mountain states (Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Utah) or strung down the east coast (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina).

Despite this growth, Minnesota continues to have just an average number of doctors per 100,000 people.  In 2012, Minnesota had 375 doctors per 100,000 population compared to a national average of 373.  Four years later, Minnesota rose to 426 doctors per 100,000 people, just 6.5 percent more than the national average of 400.

When comparing to other states, it’s important to note that Minnesota’s statewide numbers are inflated by the presence of Mayo Clinic.  Rochester, Minnesota has by far the most doctors per 100,000 people of any city in the country.  Thus, without Mayo, Minnesota would be even closer to the national average.

Average may be exactly where Minnesota should be.  Too many doctors represents inefficient and costly care delivery, while too few doctors represents a shortage of access.