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Gillibrand introduces bill to entice med students into an infectious disease specialty

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Paul Sancya
/
AP
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced a bill that would encourage more medical students to focus on jobs in infectious diseases. They would receive up to $150,000 in student loan assistance. 

Doctors and nurses who specialize in infectious disease or bio-preparedness would be eligible for the loan repayment. 

Gillibrand said the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how critical these specialties are. 

“The COVID pandemic will not be the last health emergency we face. We need to take steps now to improve recruitment and retention in infectious disease jobs,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand said infectious disease doctors get paid less, and large tuition bills can drive students toward higher-paying medical fields. 

“In 2020, only 75% of infectious disease training programs had full participation. One reason it's hard to recruit and retain workers for these specialties is that I.D. providers tend to have lower salaries than nearly all other specialties,” Gillibrand said.

The bill comes as more than 20 hospitals throughout New York have stopped elective surgeries due to the current surge in COVID cases.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.