65% of Americans support student loan debt forgiveness for infectious disease physicians

Eyeing solutions to the national shortage of infectious disease professionals, a survey commissioned by the Infectious Diseases Society of America found that 65 percent of U.S. adults support forgiveness of federal student loan debt for infectious disease professionals as a way to help retain experts and attract new ones to the field.

There has been a significant decline in enrollment for infectious disease physician training programs. 

"We know there are medical students and residents who are interested in the field of ID, but who are drawn to more lucrative specialties for financial reasons," Carlos del Rio, MD, president of the IDSA, told Becker's. "Alleviating student debt is one way to lower this barrier to entering the field, and increasing compensation is another key strategy."

Infectious disease physicians are also typically among the lowest paid in the profession, according to Bloomberg.

Measures to provide incentive for entering the field are being looked at by Congress. Specifically, the bill known as the Prevent Pandemics Act, which outlines a plan to provide loan repayment for healthcare professionals entering infectious disease and related fields. In November, dozens of healthcare agencies and organizations signed a letter urging passage of the bill. 

The bill was incorporated into the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, which was enacted and signed by President Joe Biden in December and includes the "reauthorization of the public health loan repayment program under Health Resources and Services Administration Title VII programs." 

Now that the Prevent Pandemics Act was signed into law, Dr. del Rio said the organization is "working on various fronts to boost compensation to make ID a more financially feasible choice for physicians, including increasing the valuation of the codes ID physicians most frequently bill and creating new mechanisms for ID physicians to be compensated for additional work they do during public health emergencies, and developing other novel approaches to achieve fair compensation."  

Dr. del Rio noted the organization recognizes that financial issues are only one part of the challenges. 

"I’m very optimistic about the future of the field of infectious diseases," he said. "We consistently see the best and brightest enter the field of ID/HIV with the goal of providing excellent patient care, conducting critically important research and to serve in public health."

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars