Manatee-Sarasota area named best place for family doctors

Bradenton HeraldJuly 26, 2013 

Dr. Joshua Kreithen talks to registered nurse Tina Lipe at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. Kreithen, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, says he agrees "100 percent" with the ValuePenguin survey naming the area as the best in the country for doctors. JIM DE LA/Bradenton Herald

MANATEE -- A national consumer finance website named the Manatee-Sarasota area the top city for doctors looking for a family practice.

ValuePenguin developed the ranking from around 300 metropolitan areas in the United States, giving the Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port area the title of Best City for Doctors.

Dr. Joshua Kreithen, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, agreed with ValuePenguin's assessment "100 percent."

"That's why I'm here," Kreithen said Thursday while at work in the east county hospital.

Originally from Philadelphia, he was training at the University of Florida 10 years ago, about the time the Lakewood Ranch hospital opened.

"Initially, I wanted to go anywhere there were palm trees," Kreithen said.

Having spent vacations on Longboat Key, he was already familiar with the area, so when a job was offered, he took it.

"The medical community here is superb, the hospitals are excellent," Kreithen said.

ValuePenguin, which gathers and analyzes data for various sources, used area salaries, concentration of doctors, and cost of living figures to establish its list.

"We're producing these reports to inform future and current doctors of new cities to establish a practice that they may not have considered," said Ting Pen, co-founder of ValuePenguin.com, in an email.

The Manatee County metropolitan area garnered the top spot with a 93 percent score. The No. 2 ranking, Des Moines/West Des Moines, Iowa, also scored 93 percent, but Manatee offered higher average salary points. General practitioners or family doctors in the Manatee-Sarasota area earn an average of $228,190 a year, $3,260 more than their Des Moines-area counterparts, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data as of May 2012.

The area's low cost of living was also a factor. ValuePenguin gave it a score of 92, while Des Moines had a 91. The higher the score the lower the cost of living. Cost of living figures also were taken from Bureau of Labor Statistics data as of May 2012.

"There are several factors people can consider when deciding to start or relocate a practice, but salary and cost of living are the two most important," Pen said. "These two metrics form the basis of our study, along with employment concentration as a measure of job availability -- which measures the concentration of a particular profession in a city relative to other cities."

The Manatee-Sarasota has 670 doctors serving the study area.

ValuePenguin reported that there were about 86,000 family and general practitioners in the United States as of May 2012.

"The job outlook for doctors is bright; jobs are projected to grow 24 percent from 2010 to 2020," according to the study stated.

The closest Florida metropolitan area in the study to Manatee-Sarasota was Cape Coral-Fort Myers, with a yearly salary of $219,760 and a cost of living score of 92.

There are 320 family physicians in that area and it has a location quotient of 1.83, giving it an 85 percent score.

ValuePenguin has just started producing reports and has done studies on physical therapists and health care social workers.

In describing the area, ValuePenguin called the three cities the "quintessential Floridian towns for doctors to hang their shingles in."

Some of the area's assets are having "a beautiful nature preserve and adventure course for active and outdoorsy physicians, with miles of shoreline, eco-tourism, and marine attractions,"

Kreithen says he loves the area.

"People are just happier here and that contributes to the environment," he said. "When I'm not working, it feels like I'm on vacation. It's like paradise."

ValuePenguin website: http://www.valuepenguin.com

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