Guide to Practicing Medicine in Georgia

Working towards your medical degree is an arduous task, but it’s all made worth it when you’re finally able to put your education to use, helping others and establishing a lucrative, desirable career in the process. That being said, you aren’t quite done when it comes to making choices surrounding your future in medicine. One of the biggest choices that lies ahead of you is figuring out exactly where you’ll practice medicine.

Has Georgia sparked your interest as a future physician? If so, this article about practicing medicine in Georgia will give you insight into average doctor salary, identify some of the advantages and disadvantages of practicing in Georgia, and more information that you’ll need to make an educated decision about practicing here before you fully commit.

Why Practice Medicine in Georgia? Key Advantages

Before we dive into the average salary of a doctor in Georgia, it’s important to assess why someone would wish to practice medicine here in the first place.

The first thing that often strikes new doctors is the level of friendliness that one experiences when going to Georgia. There’s nothing quite like Southern hospitality, and it’s something that other physicians note when working in the state. Besides this, Georgia is a beautiful state with a relatively low cost of living and property taxes, mild seasons (so you don’t have to worry about grueling winters), and plenty to do.

Speaking professionally, you have both larger cities and rural areas to work in, a need for doctors (primary care physicians and specialists alike), and the ability to really make a difference in a state that needs it. All of these things make Georgia a state worth considering when it comes time to get your medical license.

Disadvantages of Practicing in Georgia

Of course, becoming a doctor in Georgia isn’t all peachy. There are numerous reasons why you should heavily consider whether or not Georgia is the right state for you.

The first reason is the state of healthcare in Georgia. Georgia ranks among the worst in healthcare in the U.S. with a substantially lower number of doctors available (around 232 doctors for every 100,000 people), a high number of individuals that are currently uninsured and unable to get the healthcare they need, and poor health overall.

Among some of the reasons why we see fewer doctors here include lower wages and larger overall student loan debt. To illustrate this, the average doctor salary in Georgia for primary care physicians provided by is $196,522, whereas the national average according to Kaplan hovers around $265,000, although some estimate this number as being lower. Some other reasons why Georgia isn’t the most attractive state to practice medicine in include growing violence against healthcare workers (especially during the pandemic), and difficulty finding work given the lack of hospitals and other healthcare centers and the continued shuttering of these facilities.

Speaking to some of the reasons why you might not wish to move to Georgia to practice in general includes the humid and sweltering summers, high traffic, and higher crime rates as well as the high cost of homeowner’s insurance. Carefully review the advantages and disadvantages of moving to Georgia and other states before you finally decide which state license you’d like to apply for.

Read this: How Much Does Disability Insurance Cost?

How Many Active Physicians Are in the State?

According to the Georgia Composite Medical Board, there are approximately 61,185 practicing physicians in the state of Georgia.

Here’s a breakdown of these professionals:

  • Physicians: 42,033
  • Physician Assistants: 6,809
  • Respiratory Care Professionals: 6,437
  • Resident Training Permits: 3,080
  • Cosmetic Laser Practitioners: 1,390
  • Acupuncturists: 291
  • Pain Management Clinics: 218
  • Orthotists & Prosthetists: 217
  • Perfusionists: 184
  • Genetic Counselors: 526
  • Auricular Detoxification Technicians: 0

While there’s no specific data available on whether the number of active physicians is increasing or decreasing, it stands to reason that it’s likely the latter until something is done to address the current doctor shortage. Around 3.3 million Georgians live in an area where there isn’t sufficient primary care support, and there would need to be 700 more primary care doctors in the state of Georgia to effectively put an end to the shortage. There are currently no statistics regarding how many licenses aren’t being renewed or which specialty they’re operating in either, which might be another factor in helping you determine whether Georgia is the right state for you to be practicing in.

Average Doctor Salary in Georgia (and Related Specialties)

We touched upon the salary of doctors in Georgia a little bit above, but it’s important to have more data points to get a realistic range of what you might expect to be compensated when you decide to get your medical license in Georgia.

Indeed currently lists the average salary of a doctor in Georgia as $163,662, which is a bit lower than some of the other numbers that are currently available from other sources. Other sources are a bit more optimistic about these numbers, with listing the average salary for a Family Practice physician as $217,199. Meanwhile, the General Physician Practioner salary for those practicing in Atlanta, Georgia, according to is $221,490.

But what if you’re looking into specific specialties? How much can you expect to earn if you’re looking to make your mark in a certain area? Let’s take a closer look at the average salaries for specific areas of practice you might wish to pursue in the state.

Top 5 Specialties in Georgia:

  • Emergency Medicine: lists the average salary for an emergency medicine physician in Georgia as $352,515, while Indeed lists the average salary much lower, sitting at around $179,611.
  • Radiology: Radiology is an extremely lucrative specialty, even in the state of Georgia. lists the average salary as $437,190, while ZipRecruiter lists the average salary as $353,726, and w-radiology lists it as $306,080.
  • Anesthesiology: lists the average salary of an anesthesiologist as $409,900 while Indeed actually estimates it being lower, listing the salary average for Georgia as $382,714.
  • Surgery: Planning on becoming a surgeon? is quite optimistic, stating that the average salary for a surgeon in Georgia falls around $415,243. That being said, average estimates are much lower, coming in around Indeed’s average, which is $295,228.
  • Psychiatry: Learning about the average doctor’s salary in Georgia can be important for those seeking to be mental health professionals as well. Psychiatrists have a much more stable outlook, with several sources quoting around the same amount. lists the average salary as $240,868, while ZipRecruiter has it at $232,480 and CareerExplorer has it at $231,410.

Which Specialties Are Most Needed in Georgia?

While there’s not a wealth of data surrounding the specialties that are most needed in Georgia currently, we can gather some information based on the available reports surrounding the ongoing doctor shortage in Georgia. As we’ve already established, there’s currently a primary care physician shortage (family medicine and internal medicine physicians), but these aren’t the only doctors that will be needed in the state of Georgia.

Some of the specialists that the state is severely lacking currently include pediatricians, OB/GYNs, and general surgeons. If you’re interested in one of these fields and able to find a position that suits your specific needs both in terms of career and compensation/benefits, it might be worth considering Georgia for your licensure.

Related Reading: Is There a Physician Shortage in the US? Here’s What the Stats Say

Best Business Formation for Solo Practitioners

Looking into the average salary of a doctor in Georgia just shows you the potential base pay, but it doesn’t inform you about best practices or what you need to do in order to increase and utilize your salary effectively. In order to have greater control over their careers and how much they earn, many doctors will establish their own private practice.

But one of the biggest concerns for those looking into private practices is which business formation is going to be the best fit for their needs, especially when selecting a specific state like Georgia.

Two options that most consider when they look to become solo practitioners are a sole proprietorship or general partnership, but these are not the best choices. Instead, you should look to S Corporations or Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), which offer numerous tax benefits and non-tax advantages, including limited personal liability for some business debts and reduced personal liability for other physicians’ actions. If you’re mapping out your career and plan prior to moving to Georgia, take this advice into consideration.

Keep Reading: When Should Physicians Incorporate?

How to Get Your Medical License in Georgia

Having an overview of the pros and cons of practicing medicine in Georgia is a helpful start, but it’s important to understand exactly what’s expected of you in order to actually acquire your license as well. Here’s a breakdown of all the key requirements needed for successful licensure provided directly on the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia website.

Legal Status Requirements for Applicants:

  • Must provide an affidavit indicating they are either a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, or a qualified alien under the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act.
  • If not a U.S. citizen, they need to provide documentation for their status.
  • The Board verifies citizenship and immigration information through the DHS-USCIS SAVE program.

Application Requirements:

  • Should be complete with all documentation, signatures, seals, and fees.
  • Expires one year from receipt. Any reapplication requires proper documentation and a fee.

Character Requirements:

  • Must provide evidence of good moral character.
  • Reference Forms are valid for six months. If the application isn’t approved within this period, a more current reference may be required.

Requirements Surrounding Verification of Prior Licensure:

  • Verification from every state where the applicant has held any medical license.

Examination Score Requirements:

  • A passing score on one of the listed examinations is required (e.g., USMLE, FLEX, NBME, NBOME, etc.).

Medical Education Requirements:

  • An official transcript of medical education sent directly from the school.
  • If the transcript is foreign, an English translation is needed.
  • Medical schools must have specific accreditations (LCME, AOA COCA, CACMS) or meet equivalent standards.
  • Schools outside the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada should have at least 130 weeks of instruction.

Post-Graduate/Residency Training Requirments:

  • Graduates of approved medical schools must complete one year of postgraduate training in specific accredited programs (ACGME, AOA, RCPSC, CFPC).
  • Those from non-approved schools must show three years of such training.
  • Applicants licensed in another state before July 1, 1967, are exempt from this requirement.

U.S. Residency Requirements:

  • Verification of a year of U.S. residency is needed unless the applicant graduated from a Canadian medical school.

Requirements for Graduates of Foreign Medical Schools:

  • Proof of ECFMG certification is required unless licensed in another state before March 1, 1958.
  • Exemption exists for those who completed the AMA-approved Fifth Pathway program and passed the ECFMG qualifying exam with a score above 75.

Competency Examination Requirements:

  • The Board may require some applicants to take and pass the SPEX or another approved competency assessment.
  • This might apply to those with disciplinary action, those not practicing for over 30 consecutive months or similar circumstances.

Keep Reading: Steps to Get Licensed with the Georgia Medical Board

Medical Malpractice Rates in Georgia

Having an idea of what the average salary of a doctor in Georgia is won’t matter if you find yourself in a state where practicing becomes inherently difficult and dangerous. In Georgia, being sued for medical malpractice is a real possibility. Here are some of the statistics regarding medical malpractice in Georgia provided by Farah&Farah.

Settlement Rates in Georgia: Among the highest in the nation with an average of $370,000.

Payments to Patients: For every 100,000 residents in Georgia, 11.3 are involved in a medical malpractice claim. The total payout for these claims amounts to $111.5 million.

Adverse Actions Against Physicians: Out of 1,242 medical license reports, 1,110 have adverse actions, which includes medical malpractice lawsuits. This represents 89% of actions against a physician’s license.

Related reading: The Physician’s Guide to Malpractice Insurance

Using Your Doctor Salary in Georgia: The Benefits of Living in Georgia and What to Look Forward to

Having a high salary isn’t a benefit if you aren’t in a state offering a wide range of benefits and amenities that you will be able to use your salary to enjoy. Let’s take a closer look at some of the areas prospective Georgia physicians scrutinize when they’re considering it as a state to practice in.

What Are State Taxes in Georgia Like?

Living in a low-cost area of living soon becomes far more costly if the tax burden weighs heavily on your new salary or private practice. So, what do state taxes look like?

Georgia’s tax system includes:

  • An individual income tax that’s graduated, with rates between 1.00% and 5.75%
  • A 5.75% corporate income tax rate
  • A state sales tax rate of 4.00%
  • A maximum local sales tax rate of 5%
  • An average combined state and local sales tax rate of 7.4%

Taxes seem to fall somewhere in the middle, not being too high but also not being the lowest in the country.

You’ll also need to take into consideration other costs of living. SoFi offers an excellent breakdown of average costs, highlighting the lower costs of living in Georgia in the following categories:

Overall Cost of Living: The average annual cost of living in Georgia is $43,482.


  • The average home value in Georgia is $301,978, with the average mortgage being around $1,514.
  • Rent varies from $1,084 for a one-bedroom to $1,957 for five or more bedrooms.
  • The median gross rent is $1,153.

Utilities: The average monthly utility costs add up to $411.

Groceries and Food: The average monthly food costs hover around $308.25 per person.

Transportation: The annual costs range from $5,477 for a single adult to $15,530 for a family of two working adults and three children.

Health Care: The average annual health care cost in Georgia is $6,595 per person.

Child Care: Monthly child care costs range from $664 for a preschooler classroom to $1,091 for home-based care.

Read this: Disability Insurance for Self-Employed Physicians

Best K-12 Schools

If you have children, giving them access to the best education possible will be a critical consideration in your move to Georgia. Because there are a host of K-12 schools in the state, we’ll focus instead on the top school districts worth considering. These include:

1. Buford City Schools (BCS)

  • Location: Gwinnett County.
  • Number of Schools: 4.
  • Achievements: All schools have an “A” grade from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

2. City Schools of Decatur

  • Location: Dekalb County.
  • Type: Public charter school district.
  • Number of Schools: 10.
  • Enrollment: ~5,600 students.
  • Achievements: Students outperform state and national averages on standardized tests, and Decatur High School was recognized as a Georgia AP Challenge and AP Merit school.

3. Jefferson City Schools (JCS)

  • Location: Jackson County.
  • Number of Schools: 4.
  • Achievements: Numerous awards including a 2018 Highest-Performing Title-I Reward School honor for Jefferson Academy.

4. Harris County School District (HCSD)

  • Location: Hamilton.
  • Number of Schools: 7 schools and a performance learning center.
  • Achievements: A graduation rate of 93%, which is over 10 points higher than the statewide rate.

5. Bremen City Schools

  • Location: Haralson County.
  • Number of Schools: 3 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 1 high school.
  • Achievements: All schools earned either an “A” or “B” grade from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

Best Medical Schools

Whether you plan on continuing your education or you’re looking to plan everything out from figuring out the average salary of a doctor in Georgia to finding your school long before you’ve become a medical professional, knowing more about the medical schools in Georgia is important. Here are some of the top medical schools you can take advantage of before or after you get your license in the state.

1. Emory University – Atlanta, GA

  • Type: Private not-for-profit
  • Medicine Degrees Awarded: 125
  • Median Starting Salary: $59,652
  • Notes: Emory is located in Atlanta and has a national rank of #35 out of 2,241 schools. Medicine graduates from Emory earn about $3,150 above the average earnings of medicine graduates.

2. Morehouse School of Medicine – Atlanta, GA

  • Type: Private not-for-profit
  • Medicine Degrees Awarded: 81
  • Median Starting Salary: $56,547
  • Notes: MSM, located in Atlanta, is notable for medicine. Graduates report an average early career wage of $56,547.

3. Augusta University – Augusta, GA

  • Type: Public
  • Medicine Degrees Awarded: 232
  • Growth in Graduates: 5.6%
  • Notes: Located in Augusta, this university ranks 13th out of 69 schools in Georgia. Medicine graduates report an average early career wage of $55,347.

4. Mercer University – Macon, GA

  • Type: Private not-for-profit
  • Medicine Degrees Awarded: 127
  • Growth in Graduates: 7.9%
  • Notes: Mercer, situated in Macon, ranks 14th out of 69 colleges in Georgia. Graduates from the medicine program report an average early career wage of $54,463.

Areas of Interest in Georgia

1. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is a city steeped in 19th-century architecture, that has been dubbed the “Hostess City of the South,” Savannah exudes warm, laid-back Southern hospitality. Filled with exciting shops, noteworthy dining establishments, and the ever-lively River Street, you can easily occupy your time by strolling through Forsyth Park, exploring the city’s 22 squares, or even going on a ghost tour!


2. Helen, Georgia

Helen is a town found in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia that was inspired by Bavarian Alpine villages. From delectable German food to German-themed festivities like Oktoberfest, this town is certainly a place to be when you find yourself in the state. Helen also boasts a stunning shopping experience with over 200 stores, plenty of local wineries, and the beautiful scenic Unicoi State Park & Lodge nearby.


3. Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens can be found in the Appalachian Mountains, and it’s a gorgeous attraction featuring 2,500 acres of natural beauty and a butterfly center teeming with over a thousand butterflies. You can get out and enjoy 10 miles of bike and nature trails, activities like swimming, pedal boating, or paddleboarding at Robin Lake Beach, or head on over to Aqua Island with the family!


Best Cities to Live in

A good portion of the amount listed in the sections above regarding the average doctor’s salary in Georgia will be spent on housing, so it’s important to make sure you relocate to a city you love. Here are a few of the best cities to live in if you wish to get your medical license in Georgia.

Alpharetta, Georgia

Situated just 30 minutes from Atlanta, this city is widely regarded as one of Georgia’s prime residential areas by both locals and publications alike. With a median household income of around $113,000, Alpharetta is emerging as the “New Buckhead,” and it has become popular for its upscale dining choices, elite neighborhoods, and growing business landscape. While it’s a modern and thriving city, Alpharetta hasn’t abandoned the quintessential southern charm that Georgian cities have become associated with.

John’s Creek, Georgia

Johns Creek, located less than 30 miles north of Atlanta, is the perfect place for aspiring medical professionals looking to raise a family or immerse themselves in the surrounding culture. Being close to Atlanta and other areas like the Chattahoochee River, means being able to enjoy everything the city has to offer while never being far from natural attractions. John’s Creek boasts top-rated public schools, housing, nightlife, and safety. While the cost of living is higher, you benefit from plenty of local boutiques, spas and country clubs, delicious eating establishments, and other amenities that are sure to be worth the cost.

Athens, Georgia

Athens, Georgia, is a city that’s associated close to the University of Georgia and is known for its trendy atmosphere, revitalized downtown area, emphasis on arts and culture, and wide selection of delicious culinary experiences. As a resident, you can take advantage of attractions like the State Botanical Garden, the Georgia Museum of Art, and Bear Hollow Zoo, just to name a few. Athens offers plenty of events as well, and its major selling point is that it offers a lower cost of living, making it perfect for new doctors who want to save more on housing as they build their careers.


Moving to another state to get your medical license should be a seamless experience. With a better idea of what the average salary for a doctor in Georgia looks like, highlights of the state, and other important insights listed above, you should have everything you need to better understand what the state of medical work looks like in Georgia and whether it’s a good fit for you.

Still deciding where to go? Consult our Annual Physician Compensation Report to help with your decision.

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