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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

A Looming Shortage of Infectious Disease Docs

By Gary Evans, Senior Staff Writer

During the next global pandemic will the unanswered cry be, “Is there an ID doctor in the house?”

Another ominous sign that there is a shortage of infectious disease physicians looming appeared recently in the form of unfilled slots for future specialists on fellowship “match” day. According to a medical news report, 117 of the 335 available ID fellowships were left unfilled. Other specialties had more favorable results, with 374 clinical fellowships in gastroenterology filled.

The Infectious Disease Society of America expressed concern because the vacant fellowships reflect a continuing trend.

Dan Diekema, MD, director of infectious diseases at the University of Iowa, said “The trend that’s undeniable is that fewer and fewer people are interested in going into infectious diseases.”

More competitive salaries for ID physicians may be part of an effort to recruit and market a specialty that seemingly needs no introduction. It is has been a critical part of the response to SARS, H1N1 pandemic influenza, MERS and Ebola – all of which have emerged in the first decade and a half of the 21st century.

“It’s a fascinating and rewarding career,” Diekema said. “I would choose it again in a second.”