Vermont Business Magazine A new report conducted by Medicare Health Plans shows the per capita number of nurses and physicians in America. Vermont ranked among the best states for health care professionals. The report suggests that Vermont's health care professionals are among the least over-worked in the nation.
In the United States, there are a total of 923,308 primary care and specialist physicians.1 Compare that to the nation’s population (324,956,001 as of April 30, 2017),2 and you can see that for every 1,000 people, there are just 2.8 physicians.
The country has a lot more nurses, totaling 4,148,730 registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs).3 That works out to 12.8 nurses per 1,000 people.
- Vermont is the #1 best state in the nation for nurses with an average of 21.3 nurses per 1,000 people
- Vermont is the #9 best state in the nation for doctors with an average of 3.4 doctors per 1,000 people
With so many people compared to the number of doctors and nurses, we can assume that these health care professionals have a lot of work to do. What’s more, the numbers vary drastically from state to state. In many areas, doctors and nurses are much more overworked than others.
For example, in Washington, DC, the physician-to-person ratio is more than 9.7 to 1,000, but in some states, the number of doctors drops to fewer than 2 for every 1,000. The state ratios for nurses differ widely, too, ranging from 1.9 per 1,000 at the lowest to 21.3 per 1,000 at the highest.
There is some evidence that having access to fewer physicians could affect the quality of care you can expect to receive. According to a study published in the journal Health Affairs, the more primary care doctors and specialists in a state, the better quality of care that state has:
“Having more physicians, both specialists and [family practice/general practitioners], is associated with better quality.”
In addition, more nurses could also lead to better care in hospitals, according to a 2002 study of hospital surgical nurses in California that found that high patient-to-nurse ratios correlated with higher hospital mortality rates. In the study, each patient’s risk of death within 30 days of admission was increased by 7% for every extra patient a nurse took on.
Overworked nurses become burned out, which leads to job dissatisfaction and errors, according to the same study:
“Nurses nationwide consistently report that hospital nurse staffing levels are inadequate to provide safe and effective care. Physicians agree, citing inadequate nurse staffing as a major impediment to the provision of high-quality hospital care.”
Ranking the most overworked nurses by state
Ranking the most overworked physicians by state
1 Kaiser Family Foundation, “Total Professionally Active Physicians”
2 US Census Bureau, “US and World Population Clock”
3 Kaiser Family Foundation, “Total Number of Professionally Active Nurses”
4 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Registered Nurses”
5 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Registered Nurses”
6 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Registered Nurses”
7 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Family and General Practitioners”