Updated on Jan 26, 2023
The medical specialty of infectious disease is the subspecialty of internal medicine that focuses on diagnosing and treating infections. This subspecialty also studies how to control and contain the infection. Those who choose to further specialize in this area of medicine should be interested in researching and studying bacteria, viruses, fungi, and the vaccines and immunizations that can fight them.
To work in this subspecialty, a medical graduate must complete an internal medicine residency that lasts three years. After finishing residency, ID physicians must complete a subsequent infectious disease fellowship. This fellowship may last two to three years.
Infectious disease fellowships continue to see low enrollment. In 2022, only 54 percent of available fellowship training positions were filled. If fellowships continue to see low enrollment, the infectious disease physician shortage will rapidly worsen.
Practicing as a Professional
As of the end of 2022, the average salary for subspecialists in ID was just over $237,000. This is relatively low pay compared to other medical specialties. However, one thing for international medical students to note is that, on average, foreign-trained infectious disease physicians made roughly $40k more than their U.S.-trained counterparts.
Currently, there are approximately 8,500 infectious disease specialists in the U.S. Some specialists serve as consultants; others have an internal medicine practice. A large portion of these healthcare providers works closely with disease control teams.
Infectious Disease Today
The rapid onset and spread of COVID-19 and RSV is also helping generate demand for medical specialists in infectious disease. Many are predicting that the COVID-19 pandemic is just the first of many that will spread between animals and humans. In the event that prediction becomes a reality, infectious disease will be a growing and important area of medicine.
In the past, specialists have saved the lives of countless individuals who were affected directly and indirectly by diseases, including ebola, zika, measles, and influenza. If you want to make your mark in medicine by working to fight current and future pandemics, this internal medicine subspecialty could be a great option.
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