Our 2011 report, reflecting data from 2007–2008, demonstrated that, for many pediatric subspecialties, pursuing fellowship training was a negative financial decision when compared with practicing as a general pediatrician. We provide an updated analysis on the financial impact of pediatric fellowship training and model interventions that can influence the results.
We estimated the financial returns a graduating pediatric resident might anticipate from fellowship training followed by a career as a pediatric subspecialist and compared them with the returns expected from starting a career as a general pediatrician immediately after residency. We evaluated the potential effects of eliminating medical school debt, shortening the length of fellowship training, and implementing a federal loan repayment program for pediatric subspecialists. We compared the financial returns of subspecialty training in 2018–2019 to those from our previous report.
Pursuing fellowship training generated widely variable financial returns when compared with general pediatrics that ranged from +$852 129 for cardiology to −$1 594 366 for adolescent medicine. Twelve of 15 subspecialties analyzed yielded negative financial returns. The differences have become more pronounced over time: the spread between the highest and lowest earning subspecialties widened from >$1.4 million in 2007–2008 to >$2.3 million in 2018–2019. The negative financial impact of fellowship training could be partially ameliorated by shortening the length of training or by implementing pediatric subspecialist specific loan repayment programs.
This report can be used to help guide trainees, educators, and policy makers. The interventions discussed could help maintain an adequate and balanced pediatric workforce.