More than 1 million Americans are doctors of medicine, providing an invaluable contribution to society by keeping the most diverse nation in human history healthy from the cradle to the grave, and supporting the U.S. economy by ensuring that care is accessible and available, whether in ordinary times or during crises such as the coronavirus emergency.
Physicians also have a tremendous impact on the U.S. economy. According to a 2018 report prepared for the American Medical Association, in 2015 (the most recent year that data was available), doctors supported nearly 12.6 million jobs in the U.S., with the average physician supporting more than 17 jobs and nearly $1.5 million in wages and benefits.
Since 1933, March 30 has been recognized as National Doctors’ Day, an annual observance to reflect on the impact that doctors have on our lives and our communities, and to honor their contributions, service and sacrifice. The day has been official since 1991, when President George H.W. Bush first celebrated it.
Here are some facts about doctors in the U.S., according to Statista and Fact Retriever:
- Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C., lead the nation in physicians per capita. Globally, Cuba has the most doctors per capita, with 7.5 per 1,000 residents.
- Orthopedic and plastic surgeons are among the highest-earning physicians in the nation, making $482,000 and $471,000 annually on average, respectively.
- While general practitioners are the most common medical subfield, the most common specialty in the U.S. is psychiatry.
- About 64% of medical doctors report working overtime, with some working up to 60 hours each week.
- Demand for physicians is growing, even before coronavirus, due to an aging population and increase demand in both rural and low-income urban spaces. Employment was estimated at 18% between 2012 and 2020.
- The first woman to graduate from medical school in the U.S. was Elizabeth Blackwell; she founded her own medical school for women during the Civil War era. Today, women are entering the field at higher rates than ever before, though under-representation and pay disparities continue.
We’d love to hear from our college community about the personal impact of doctors. Is there a medical professional in your family on the front lines of coronavirus or making an impact elsewhere in public health?
“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.”