DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - When you think of Dothan, the first thing that comes to mind may be that it is the peanut capital of the U.S., but a new study may be adding best small city for doctors to the resume.
Out of 317 cities on AdvisorSmith’s study, Dothan finished as the fifth best for doctors to work in and number one in the U.S. for small cities.
A statistic that one local doctor is pleased with, but ultimately not too surprised by.
Before winding up in Dothan, SE Health Eastside Clinic Medical Director Guanita Heersink trained in larger cities like Montgomery and Birmingham.
Ample employment opportunities and chances to move up brought her to the Wiregrass.
"I was really impressed with the number of sub-specialists here,” said Heersink. “We have gastroenterology, pulmonary, wonderful referral base. We see patients from North Florida all the way up in to Georgia."
AdvisorSmith conducted a study that placed Dothan as the best city for doctors to work in with less than 150,000 people.
The study considered annual salary, density of jobs and cost of living for doctors.
The average salary for Dothan doctors is $267,090, 31% higher than the national average.
Dothan also has 24% more jobs per capita than average and an 18% lower cost of living.
"I was very impressed,” said Heersink. “It's something anecdotally that doctors talk about and we always use in recruiting. It's a great place to raise a family. You'll be very busy. You'll have a lot of patients."
The study attributes some of the city's success to having two large hospitals that combine for nearly a 1000 physicians.
While that may be an asset for doctors, Heersink thinks it can be detrimental at times for patients.
"I think that happens in a lot of small cities is that there's one or two hospitals and they're kind of medical silos and there's not a lot of communication between them,” said Heersink. “Patients can feel like they're being shuttled around or feel like they're not getting well-coordinated care."
Despite some communication issues that Heersink thinks could be improved, she's pretty pleased to be working in the best small city for doctors in the nation.
Huntsville was the only other Alabama city to make the top 50 in the survey.
It came in at 46th.
You can see the whole survey here: https://advisorsmith.com/data/best-cities-for-doctors/