IDSA Statement on ID Fellowship Match Rates
The United States will continue to face a shortage of physicians who specialize in preventing, diagnosing and treating infectious diseases, which will further compromise the nation’s ability to defend against public health emergencies. Data from the most recent National Residency Matching Program show an alarming decline in enrollees in infectious diseases physician training programs. Only 56% of infectious diseases training programs filled their slots, whereas most other specialties filled 90% or more of their programs.
Infectious diseases physicians are vital not only during emergencies like RSV, mpox and COVID-19, but also provide expertise and care that enable cancer treatments, routine surgeries and transplants. Patients with serious infections have better outcomes, shorter hospital stays and lower costs when they are managed by an infectious diseases physician. Yet 80% of U.S. counties don’t have a single ID physician available.
While there are many factors that may be driving this problem, one factor that cannot be ignored is compensation. Physicians who focus on infectious diseases are among the lowest paid. Coupled with high medical student debt, low compensation is a chief barrier to entering the field of ID. Many compensation-related roadblocks require policymakers and health systems to take action.
Congress has an opportunity to pass the BIO Preparedness Workforce Pilot Program, as included in the PREVENT Pandemics Act, which could help shore up the nation’s infectious diseases workforce.
The future of the ID workforce has long been a priority for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. IDSA invests in programs aimed at engaging medical students and residents, resources to help providers advocate for adequate remuneration and programs to support a diverse workforce, but the public and private sectors must do more to ensure an adequate workforce in the future. It is now time for Congress to act and for Medicare to increase compensation for cognitive specialties such as infectious diseases.
Carlos del Rio, MD, FIDSA – President, Infectious Diseases Society of America
The Infectious Diseases Society of America is a community of more than 12,000 physicians, scientists and public health experts who specialize in infectious diseases. Its purpose is to improve the health of individuals, communities and society by promoting excellence in patient care, education, research, public health and prevention relating to infectious diseases. Learn more at https://www.idsociety.org/.