Infectious diseases professionals are clinicians, scientists and public health experts who research, diagnose and treat diseases that are caused by exposure to bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. We are known for our medical detective work, which helps us address current threats and prepare for the future. ID physicians go to medical school for four years, receive three years of fellowship training in internal medicine and complete two to three years of training in ID to become a specialist. There are more than 9,500 ID physicians in the United States.
We solve complex medical problems in clinical and nonclinical settings. ID professionals may practice in dedicated clinics or split our practice with general internal medicine. Others provide support to different types of physicians as consulting doctors, seeing patients in our own practice. Some ID doctors care for specific patient populations requiring unique knowledge and skills, such as HIV or wound care. Still other ID experts are hospital or community-based epidemiologists or infection control experts. In academic settings, we may provide care in clinics and hospitals, perform research, provide pharmacy services and teach medical students and residents.
ID professionals have expertise treating infections in major organ systems. Therefore, we routinely work alongside other physicians like general internists, surgeons, cardiologists, gastroenterologists and neurologists.
ID specialists are on the leading edge of some of the most important topics in medicine today - such as offering expert guidance and care for addressing COVID-19, the growing threat posed by antimicrobial resistance and global health challenges such as tuberculosis and malaria, and treating emerging infections such as Zika, pandemic influenza and Ebola. ID experts play a critical role in biopreparedness – ensuring that we are ready to address future health threats efficiently and effectively. Our medical detective work - which helps exclude causes of infectious diseases to arrive at the right diagnosis - is critical to preventing the onset of infections and caring for those who need treatment. We advise policymakers and the public on how to reduce the risk of infection.