Infectious disease physicians earn less than most other specialties: 5 survey findings

Physicians specializing in infectious diseases earn less than most other physicians, which causes a number of medical students to opt out of pursuing the specialty, according to a survey conducted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The online survey received 2,504 responses from 6,793 active IDSA members as of March 2017.

Median compensation for ID experts overall is $215,000 a year, according to the 2017 survey of 2,504 respondents who are members of IDSA. Infectious disease physician compensation ranks towards the bottom compared to other physicians and is approximately less than half of what some specialists earn, according to other surveys.

For example, a recent Medscape survey found infectious disease physicians earned $231,000 in compensation annually on average, compared to plastic surgeons, who were the survey's highest paid physicians, earning $501,000 on average.

Here are five survey findings on compensation for infectious disease physicians in hospitals and clinics.  

1. The typical hospital/clinic physician reported an income of $237,500.

2. The survey found male hospital/clinic physicians reported a higher median income than their female peers ($250,000 compared to $220,000).

3. Half of hospital/clinic physicians in the survey practice general infectious disease. These physicians tended to report higher incomes than physicians focused on HIV only or on Hepatitis C and HIV only.

4. Over one-third (37 percent) of physicians reported at least part of their compensation is tied to performance as measured by quality metrics, including those related to HIV, Hepatitis C, Clostridium difficile infection rate and surgical site infection rate.

5. Hospital/clinic physicians said they plan to expand their careers and improve their compensation in various ways, including providing administrative services to hospitals (32 percent), adopting telemedicine to expand clinical reach (21 percent), pursuing a position in hospital leadership (20 percent) and incorporating clinical research into their practice (16 percent).

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