Guide to Practicing Medicine in Michigan

The Great Lake State is quite popular, and for good reason. As an aspiring physician, you might have even considered moving to establish residence there and begin practicing. But what do you need to know before you move? Whether you’re interested in evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of living in Michigan or you’re interested in learning more about the average salary of a doctor in Michigan, this comprehensive guide will help you better understand what practicing there might look like and what you can expect moving forward.

Top Reasons to Practice Medicine in Michigan

There are plenty of reasons why you might consider Michigan as the right state to move to when you’re looking to become a physician. Speaking to the highlights of living in the state, some of the reasons why people love living there include the slow pace of life as well as the well-known Midwestern hospitality, the overall low cost of living and affordable housing market, and a ton of outdoor recreational activities to engage in and views to enjoy.

From a physician’s standpoint, working in Michigan offers a diverse range of demographics to engage with, which always keeps you on your toes and allows you to truly utilize the education that you’ve been given. Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of the inner city or you’re looking to take things slow in a less populated area so you can develop closer relationships with the community, you have plenty of options to pursue the medical career you’re looking for.

Top Reasons Not to Practice Medicine in Michigan

With the above in mind, there are problems in Michigan that might prevent prospective residents and physicians from moving there. Those who currently live in Michigan cite a number of issues that might drive those looking to rent or own a home there, including high car insurance rates and bad road infrastructure, the state of Detroit (high crime rates and minimal funding to the point of abandonment), high humidity, brutal winters, and even the sheer number of mosquitos.

Physicians aren’t as happy with working in Michigan because of the lower funding and working with a large population that depends primarily on Medicare and Medicaid, which limits their ability to give residents the level of care that they deserve. These are just a few things you should keep in mind if you want to practice in Michigan, especially if you’re looking at cities like Detroit.

Read this: Experts Weigh in on the Future of Healthcare in the Next 30 Years

Number of Active Physicians in Michigan

Current data offered by Statista estimates that there are around 22,510 active physicians in Michigan in 2023. They offer a comprehensive breakdown of the number of physicians by specialty, revealing the following numbers:

  • Psychiatry: 1,758 active physicians
  • Surgery: 2,320 active physicians
  • Anesthesiologists: 1,689 active physicians
  • Emergency Medicine: 4,015 active physicians
  • Radiology: 2,079 active physicians
  • Cardiology: 1,197 active physicians
  • Oncology: 783 active physicians
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes, & Metabolism: 285 active physicians
  • Other Specialties: 8,384 active physicians

Based on current reports regarding the number of active physicians in Michigan, there’s reason to believe the numbers are either stagnant or continuing to decrease. We’ll cover this in greater detail in the following sections.

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Average Doctor Salary Michigan: General Physicians and Specialties

Arguably, the most important thing to consider if you want to make the move to Michigan is how much they’ll compensate you for practicing there. While salary data can vary wildly, doctors can expect to make a good amount practicing in Michigan. According to Indeed, the base salary for a doctor in Michigan is $161,912. ZipRecruiter is a bit of an outlier with their estimate, stating that a physician can expect to make around $95,823 annually. Meanwhile, provides a figure of $222,581 and Glassdoor offers a similar estimate of around $223,000.

But what might you expect in terms of salary if you’re trying to become a specialist rather than a family doctor in Michigan? Let’s take a look at some of the top specialties as well as their salary estimates.

As you can see from the above, choosing to pursue a specialty can result in a major increase in salary, which is going to play a major role in what we talk about next: where the greatest demand for medical specialists is and how it affects the overall healthcare system.

What Doctors Are Currently Most in Demand?

Specialists are going to naturally earn a higher salary than regular doctors in Michigan, which has created a major issue in the state and a greater demand for regular physicians. Michigan has been facing a doctor shortage since as early as 2009, but recent reports actually predict that they’ll be 800 primary care physicians short of their needs by as soon as 2030.

To put things into perspective, statistics reveal that 20% of adults in Michigan and 8% of children lack a primary care physician, approximately three million Michigan residents are underserved in regard to primary care, and Michigan loses over half of its resident trainees, for which only one in eight actually enter family medicine residencies.

If you are considering becoming a primary care doctor in Michigan and pay might be a deterrent in comparison to some of the other specialties available in the state, you can always use strategies like starting your own private practice (specifically S-Corps, which are much better than sole proprietorships or even LLCs) or learning how to negotiate your contract for more agreeable a more agreeable salary and other benefits that you need to get the most out of living in the state.

Related: What’s Included in a Doctor’s Benefits Package?

How to Get Your Medical License in Michigan

Beyond the average doctor salary in Michigan, there’s also a natural curiosity and concern surrounding what the licensing process looks like. You have to make sure you’ve taken all the right steps so you can expedite the process and get your license as soon as possible. While there are a lot of factors to consider that would warrant its own guide (which you can view here), here’s a breakdown of some of the eligibility requirements and necessary elements for getting your physician’s license in Michigan.

General Requirements (For All Applicants):

  • If involved with controlled substances, both MD and controlled substance licenses are necessary.
  • Opioids and controlled substances awareness training.
  • Criminal background check after application submission (excluded in the instance of relicensure within the last three years.)
  • Good moral character questions.
  • Human trafficking training.
  • Two hours of implicit bias training (can have been done within the last five years).
  • Social Security Number or an SSN affidavit, if exempt.
  • Verification of any previous licensures from U.S. states or other countries.
  • Professional education, hospital affiliations, and English language proficiency details must be provided.

Additional Requirements (U.S. or Canada Medical School Graduates):

  • Certification of medical education form sent directly from the medical school.
  • USMLE examination scores from the Federation of State Medical Boards (max 4 attempts per step).
  • Completion of a minimum of 1 year of postgraduate clinical training.

Additional Requirements (Foreign Medical School Graduates):

  • Certificate of Educational Commission for the Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
  • USMLE examination scores from the Federation of State Medical Boards (max 4 attempts per step).
  • Completion of a minimum of 1 year of postgraduate clinical training.

Application and Fees:

  • You can submit your online application at for a Medical Doctor License and an optional Controlled Substance License. They no longer accept paper applications.
  • You have to pay the application fee + three-year license by credit or debit card:
    • MD License by Exam or Endorsement: $367.70
    • Controlled Substance License: $254.10

If you’re looking for more detailed information regarding medical licensure or if you’re looking for licensing for a different specialty, visit the official Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.

Related: How to get your Medical License in Michigan

The Highlights of Living in Michigan

It’s important to know what you can look forward to having the salary of a primary care doctor or specialist when you’re in Michigan. Regardless of whether you have a family you’ll be moving there with or you’re planning on moving alone, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of living in Michigan and related things you’ll want to know once you decide to make the move.

Best K-12 Schools

If you are relocating with your family to Michigan,  you want to make sure that you’re giving your children access to the education they need to succeed. Here are a few of the best K-12 schools worth considering sending your children to.

Webster Elementary School

Webster Elementary School in Livonia, MI, is ranked #1 among Michigan Elementary Schools based on state test performance, graduation rates, and readiness for high school by U.S. News & World Report. They have a diverse student population, which is further enhanced by their low teacher-to-student ratio, helping their students get more focused support to equip them with the skills and education they’ll need for the future.

Middle School Mathematics Science Technology Center

The Middle School Mathematics Science Technology Center is a distinguished magnet school located in Warren, MI. They are the top-ranked middle school in Michigan, which is easy to see with a reported 98% of their students having achieved or surpassed proficiency in both math and reading. While they do have a lower minority population than other top-performing schools in Michigan, they do support economically disadvantaged kids, and they have a student-teacher ratio of six, which is great for students who need a learning environment where they have more one-on-one time with teachers.

The International Academy of Macomb

Located in Clinton Township, The International Academy of Macomb is revered for its rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. The International Academy of Macomb is the top high school in the state and has ranked 11th out of all high schools naturally. They have an impressive 98% passing rate for students who have passed at least one IB exam and a perfect 100% graduation rate. Even better, they also boast 90% mathematics proficiency and 98% in reading. You can find it here if you want to give your teens a headstart they can leverage for even more career opportunities.

Best Medical Schools

If you’re considering attending medical school in Michigan first, then getting your medical license (or even continuing education there), it’s important to know which medical schools are going to give you the education and support you need (as well as leverage if you’re looking to improve your salary as a doctor in Michigan). Here are a few of the top medical schools in Michigan worth taking a look at.

University of Michigan Medical School

The University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, MI, is the top-ranked school in the country, both as a university and a medical school. It’s ranked 15th for Best Medical Schools in Research and Primary Care. Students benefit from being a part of Michigan Medical, which is one of the country’s largest academic medical complexes that provides students with extensive learning opportunities. They also offer an Interprofessional Clinical Experience (ICE) program for early clinical exposure. Applicants who were accepted to this school had an average GPA of 3.78 and an MCAT score of 514.

Wayne State University School of Medicine (WSUSOM)

WSUSOM in Detroit, MI, is ranked 66th nationally for Best Medical Schools in Research and 89th for Primary Care. Although we’ve discussed why Detroit might be a reason to avoid Michigan as a whole, this school is known for conducting the first-ever successful open-heart surgery, offering around $150 million in uncompensated care annually, and its student-led community outreach programs. Applicants who were accepted had an average GPA of 3.75 and an MCAT score of 511.

Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine (MSUCHM)

MSUCHM in East Lansing, MI, is a college that offers traditional M.D. degrees and has a reputation for its excellence in primary care, family medicine, and rural medicine. They predominantly accept applicants who live in Michigan and who have both great academic credentials as well as STEM-based extracurriculars.

Related: The Full Breakdown to Medical School Student Loans

What to Do in Michigan

What can you do with your salary as a doctor in Michigan? Here are a few sights to see and things to enjoy once you settle down there.

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is a picturesque destination loved by both locals and tourists. Known for its natural beauty and famous sights like the Arch Rock, this island has plenty to do and see. Some of the most prominent attractions include the Butterfly House & Insect World, Fort Mackinac, and Wings of Mackinac.

mackinac island

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a natural landscape situation on the shore of Lake Superior, characterized by striking blue-green waters, vibrant rock formations, and plenty of stunning views of surrounding nature and nearby cliffs. Visitors can spend the day adventuring and receiving ranger-led tours or they can spend more time camping to get more out of the experience.

pictured rock

Henry Ford Museum

The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn highlights the history of America and its innovative spirit, offering exhibits like Presidential Limousines and Heroes of the Sky. If you’re a fan of automobiles and learning, this is certainly a place to be once you call Michigan home.

henry ford

Best Places to Live

Figuring out where to live can be the most confusing aspect of moving to a knew state or even finding a home in the one you currently live in. Where should you settle down? Here are a few of the top places to live in Michigan for those who want to make sure they’re getting the best possible Michigan experience.


This family-friendly city in Michigan has a reasonable population of 90,758 and an average resident age of 41. It’s renowned for a close-knit community comprised primarily of higher-income earners, for which the average income is $106,000. They have a median home price of $393,237, a host of amazing public schools to choose from, and a tranquil atmosphere that extends from the suburbs to Lake St. Clair.

st clair

Traverse City

Also known as Michigan’s “cherry on top”, Traverse City has a small population of 15,559 and an average resident age of 40. Traverse City is most known for being the perfect place to live if you’re an outdoor enthusiast or a wine enthusiast, with attractions of note including Grand Traverse Bay and local wineries and entertainment hotspots. The current median rent sits at $2,175, and they have a median home price of $411,191.

traverse city

Sault Ste. Marie

Also known as “The Soo,” this city has a small population of 13,410 and an average resident age of 34. It’s an excellent city for those seeking a balance between work and leisure. Some of the highlights of living in The Soo include being in close proximity to both St. Mary’s River and Lake Superior. Residents benefit from being fairly isolated but also close to Canadian attractions. Rental rates stand at around or under $1,000, and home prices average $151,496, which can be perfect for physicians who are just starting out.

sault ste marie

Provider Review: Northpointe Bank in Grand Forks, Michigan


Overall, Michigan is not a bad place to settle down. While there are drawbacks, you can do a lot with the salary of a doctor in Michigan, and there are plenty of highlights that make the move worth it.

Still deciding where to go? Read our Top 10 Places to Live & Work and consult our Annual Physician Compensation Report to help with your decision.

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