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NJ’s Ratio of Doctors, Dentists to Population Outpaces Nation

But Garden State lags in availability of mental-health professionals

New Jerseyans have greater access than others in the United States to primary care doctors and dentists, but the ratio of mental-health professionals to population in the state is lower than the national average.

Those statistics are included in the 2014 County Health Rankings and Roadmap released earlier this year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In fact, mental-health professionals outnumber primary care physicians and dentists both in New Jersey and nationwide.

But New Jersey has a lower ratio of mental-health providers compared with the population than the nation as whole.

New Jersey has almost 11,000 mental-health providers, which amounts to one for every 826 residents.

The national average for the nation’s counties is 753 to 1. The most favorable ratio in the state, 507 to 1 in Mercer County, ranks among the best in the nation. But Mercer was the only New Jersey county in the top 10 percent in the country.

This is the first time the RWJ rankings, now in their fifth year, measured access to mental-health services.

The foundation’s survey found that the availability of mental-health providers is 1.3 times higher in the healthiest counties in each state than in the least healthy counties.

The report counted about 7,500 primary care doctors in the state, or one for every 1,173 New Jerseyans, compared to one per 1,354 Americans. Seven counties in New Jersey had ratios ranking in the top 10 percent nationally, led by Bergen County, with one doctor for every 818 residents.

New Jersey has more than 7,000 dentists, or one for every 1,287 people. Nationally, the average was 1,663 to 1. Ten counties in the state rank among the best ratios nationally, topped by Bergen County, with one dentist for every 834 people.

No New Jersey county ranked among the worst in the nation in these measures, but Salem had the highest ratios in the state, meaning its residents may have to wait longer or drive farther for an appointment. The ratios of professionals-to-population in Salem are 2,353 to 1 for doctors and 3,527 to 1 for dentists and mental-health providers.

The RWJ report, done in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, gives each county an overall ranking within its state, based on 29 factors that include the rate of premature deaths, the percentage of smokers and alcohol-related deaths.

Hunterdon ranks first overall in New Jersey, while Cumberland was last. Each county's health-related factors are available through the map.

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