Recruiting Crisis Threatens Infectious Disease Specialty

Just as the need rises for infectious diseases specialists who address problems like antibiotic resistance and Ebola, interest may be waning—judging by the fact that 117 of 335 infectious diseases fellowships in the US went unfilled on Match Day this month.

One issue is a system that rewards physicians more for tasks completed, like surgeries, than thinking and medical problem solving.

The lure of lucrative hospitalist positions also beckons many students. “When you have a student debt weighing on you, that suddenly makes that career path much more attractive than continuing to make $50,000 a year as a fellow. You can make $250,000 as a hospitalist,” said Dan Diekema, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Iowa Medical College.

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