Perspective from Paul G. Auwaerter, MD
April 13, 2018
2 min read

IDSA survey reveals lower salaries, gender inequality

Perspective from Paul G. Auwaerter, MD
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New survey data on compensation for ID experts further underscores the need to improve salaries, which are sometimes less than half of what other specialists earn, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The online survey was distributed to 6,793 active IDSA members from May to June 2017. About 2,500 professionals in patient care (65%), research (20%) and public health (4%) responded to the questionnaire. Among them, 90% reported being employed full time.

Overall, the median income for ID experts was $215,000 per year. When broken down by career focus, median annual income was:

  • $215,000 for patient care;
  • $190,000 for research;
  • $189,500 for public health; and
  • $265,000 for other job descriptions.

Women made less than men in each job category, earning:

  • $250,000 vs. $300,000 for owning a private practice;
  • $200,000 vs. $220,000 for being employed by a private practice;
  • $220,000 vs. $250,000 for working in a hospital or clinic;
  • $170,000 vs. $195,500 for working in an academic medical center;
  • $171,500 vs. $220,000 for conducting research; and
  • $175,000 vs. $201,500 for working in public health.

Previous surveys have shown that ID compensation is among the lowest compared with other specialties. According to the 2018 Medscape Physician Compensation Survey, the five top-earning specialties are plastic surgery ($501,000), orthopedics ($497,000), cardiology ($423,000) gastroenterology ($408,000) and radiology ($401,000). Meanwhile, the lowest earning specialties are pediatrics ($212,000), endocrinology ($212,000), family medicine ($219,000), internal medicine ($230,000) and ID ($231,000).

This issue has contributed to a decrease in ID fellowship applicants. To address this issue, IDSA is expanding its initiatives to ensure that medical students continue to pursue a career in ID. The organization said it is increasing efforts to provide more mentorship and scholarship opportunities; encourage federal officials and third-party payers to improve compensation; and support research demonstrating the value of ID physicians.

“ID specialists provide essential care and expertise to patients and, behind the scenes, it’s important to understand the significant value they bring to health care, as well as how they are compensated based on those roles,” Christopher D. Busky, CAE, chief executive officer for IDSA, said in a press release. “Unfortunately, as ID specialists retire, new physicians are not coming into the field at the same rate because of the financial challenges, particularly in areas such as public health. Compensation needs to adequately reflect ID specialists’ value to ensure safe and effective care for patients.”


IDSA. 2017 Compensation Survey. Accessed April 13, 2017.

Medscape. Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2018. Accessed April 30, 2018.

Disclosures: Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with information from the 2018 Medscape Physician Compensation Survey.