Ranking which countries have the best doctors in the world is a difficult task. The topic is simply too broad to come up with a definitive and accurate list.
How do you rank the doctors in each country? Do you rank them according to test scores? Do you rank them based on a country’s low mortality rate due to illness? Do you rank them based on the overall quality of healthcare in a country?
For this top 10 list, we looked into the past and ranked which countries have produced the most doctors who have made significant contributions and breakthroughs in the field of medicine. We checked the most popular doctors in the world at The Famous People and listed down which countries had the most representatives.
Basically, it’s a popularity contest. It’s not the most accurate way to approach the list. But considering the broadness of the topic, we couldn’t think of any other way to rank which countries have the best doctors in the world.
Note: Some doctors have a dual citizenship. In such cases, we considered the doctor’s original or birthright citizenship.
It’s only fitting that Greece is the first country mentioned on this list. The country gave us Hippocrates, commonly referred to as the “Father of Medicine.” He is known for revolutionizing the field of medicine in ancient Greece and establishing medicine as an actual profession. He came up with the so-called Hippocratic Oath, an expression of medical ethics that is still being used today.
Another famous Greek doctor is Galen. Often considered the best medical researcher in ancient history, Galen is credited for his work in various scientific studies such as anatomy, pathology, and neurology. His works greatly influenced medical studies in the western world, most especially in regard to anatomy.
When “Austria” and “doctor” are mentioned in the same breath, people immediately think of Sigmund Freud. Freud is the founder of psychoanalysis, a discipline used to treat mental health disorders. His studies on dreams, the unconscious mind, and psychology, in general, is unparalleled and remains relevant to this day.
But Freud isn’t the only Austrian doctor credited for making significant contributions in the mental health branch of medicine. Hans Asperger is known for his extensive contributions in regard to mental disorders among children, though his works were only widely recognized after his death in 1980. And Alfred Adler, a psychotherapist, is most known for his work on the inferiority complex.
Australia is best known for producing several doctors who have earned a Nobel Prize for their contributions in the field of medicine.
Most notable of which is Howard Florey. Alexander Fleming is widely recognized and credited for discovering penicillin, one of the most important discoveries in medical history. But it was Florey who actually ran the first clinical trials and, together with Ernst Boris Chain, eventually produced an effective drug out of penicillin, saving millions of lives in the process.
Robin Warren and Barry Marshall are known for identifying Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium directly associated with peptic ulcers. Warren and Marshall shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005 for their work.
Italy produced the doctor known for saving the lives of millions of people in the early 2000s. Italian Carlo Urbani was the one who identified severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a highly contagious viral disease, in 2003. He eventually got infected with the then-new disease and died shortly afterward. But not before he gave the World Health Organization (WHO) the heads-up.
Italy is also known for producing Maria Montessori and Rita Levi-Montalcini. Montessori, a physician, is known for developing the Montessori Method of education, which is still being used to this day. Levi-Montalcini is known for her work in neurobiology and is credited along with American Stanley Cohen for discovering the nerve growth factor in the 1950s.
Canada is known for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, a fact often used to make fun of the expensive healthcare system in the US. Canada has also produced doctors who have made significant contributions in the field of medicine. Perhaps most famous of all is Frederick Banting.
Banting is the co-discoverer of insulin, a peptide hormone often associated with diabetes. Along with Scottish John Macleod, Banting received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923. He remains the youngest person to ever receive that award.
In the area of space medicine, Canadian Roberta Bondar is a well-regarded figure. She is the first Canadian female astronaut as well as the first neurologist to go to space. She is known for her research contributions in space medicine.
Like Canada, Switzerland is known for housing a top-notch healthcare system. And like Austria, the small but rich country popularly known for chocolates has produced doctors who have contributed greatly in the field of mental health.
Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung is no doubt the most well-known of the group. Jung founded analytical psychology, which focuses on the individual psyche. Gamers familiar with the Persona series definitely know all about Jung and Jungian psychology.
Hermann Rorschach is known for developing the Rorschach test, a psychological test used to look into someone’s personality characteristics. Jean Piaget, also a psychologist, is known for Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, which focuses on the human intelligence.
France produced Jean-Martin Charcot, renowned for his contributions in the field of neurology. He is often called the founder of modern neurology or the father of French neurology because of his extensive work in the area. More specifically, he is known for his studies on hypnosis and hysteria.
In the field of surgery, France is best represented by Alexis Carrel. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1912, Carrel co-invented the first perfusion pump, a technique used in organ transplantation. He is also known for his suturing techniques.
Of course, we can’t talk about French doctors without mentioning Rene Laennec. Laennec is the inventor of the stethoscope, one of the most common devices associated with the word “doctor.” And last but certainly not the least is Luc Montagnier, the French virologist who discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
It seems like Germany is always included in every list that talks about the top countries in a certain field. Even if this list wasn’t based on famous doctors, Germany probably would have still made it to the top three.
One of the most renowned German doctors is Rudolf Virchow. Known as the father of modern pathology, he is famous for his work on public health. Nicknamed “the Pope of Medicine” by his colleagues, Virchow is also credited with founding social medicine and for accurately describing and naming several diseases such as leukemia and embolism.
In biology, few can match the contributions made by Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel was a biologist, naturalist, and physician credited for discovering and naming thousands of new species and for coming up with numerous terms used in biology.
2. United Kingdom
Composed of the English, the Scottish, the Welsh, and the Northern Irish, the United Kingdom has produced dozens of world-renowned doctors over the years. The most famous doctor born in the United Kingdom is without a doubt Alexander Fleming, a Scottish physician, microbiologist, and pharmacologist.
Fleming is widely recognized for discovering the first ever antibiotic, penicillin. His discovery of penicillin instantly places him on the list of the most important people in history. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with Australian Howard Florey and British Erns Boris Chain, in 1945.
And speaking of firsts, Edward Jenner, an English physician, also pioneered the smallpox vaccine, which is the first vaccine in the world. He is often called the father of immunology and has saved millions of lives thanks to his work in the field.
1. United States
The US takes the crown on our list of the top 10 countries with the best doctors in the world. The US may be the butt of jokes when it comes to expensive healthcare. But make no mistake, the country is a powerhouse in the field of medicine.
The US has produced a formidable roster of award-winning and world-famous doctors. The roster includes Denton Cooley, a surgeon known for performing the first artificial heart implantation; Alfred Blalock, a surgeon known for his work on the Tetralogy of Fallot; Charles R. Drew, known for his extensive research on blood transfusions; and Virginia Apgar, known for her work in anesthesiology and teratology.
It’s true that getting healthcare in the US requires a huge sum of money. But at least you know you will always be attended to by some of the best doctors in the world.