The following is an excerpt from The Vaccine Reaction.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a focus on the shortage of doctors opting to specialize in infectious disease.
According to forecasts by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the United States will face a serious shortage of infectious disease doctors with estimates showing that that by 2035 there will be a demand for 15,130 doctors specializing in infectious disease across the nation.
Carlos del Rio, MD, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said:
This is rather alarming for many of us since it suggests that we will lack the essential number of personnel to treat infectious diseases for many years.”
Dr. Del Rio added that despite an increase in medical school enrollment, 80 percent of U.S. counties do not have one infectious disease physician.
According to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), only 56 percent of infectious disease fellowship programs filled all of their open positions this year.
Unlike other subspecialties of internal medicine such as cardiology, critical care, and gastroenterology, where the competition to secure a position is highly competitive, low fill rates in infectious diseases have existed for over a decade.
Boghuma Titanji, MD, an infectious disease physician at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia said that dissatisfaction with salaries is one of the contributing factors to the lack of interest in infectious diseases.
She said that the average salary for an infectious disease doctors is about $260,000, which is less than doctors in other specialties. Dr. del Rio stated:
When you have significant college and medical school debt, when you graduate with a big debt, you’re not going to go to a specialty that doesn’t pay a lot.
Dr. del Rio said the politicization might also be playing a role in the declining interest in the infectious disease specialty. “People see the polarization of infectious disease, the attacks, and I think that makes people say, ‘well, why do I want to do this?’” he said.
In a March 2022 Opinion published in The New York Times, a lecturer at the Yale School of Public Health asked, “Can Public Health Be Saved?” and questioned both the CDC’s inconsistent pandemic policy recommendations and the politicization of those recommendations.
Pointing out the obvious, he commented that, “The authority of the public health establishment lies in its trustworthiness among the public. Without that, it is ineffective.”
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