Have you been bitten by a bee? Or perhaps got rashes from eating sea foods? You know how it feels when it spreads all over your body, it is very itchy right? And you suddenly get anxious and you can hardly breathe anymore. This is what we call an allergic reaction and sometimes we are allergic to substances or foods we don’t even know. What kind of doctor should we look for when this emergency arise? Perhaps, you will be interested to become one. They are what we call now as an Allergist or Immunologist. Want to know more? Let’s explore as we discuss how they function in the health care team.
What is an allergist/immunologist?
An allergist, also called as an immunologist, is a doctor who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, management, and treatment of allergic diseases. To be an allergist would take years of extensive training and education that is why they are highly qualified in managing allergic conditions such as allergies, inherited immunodeficiency diseases, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.
What are the disease conditions commonly managed by an allergist/immunologist?
Among the conditions that are treated by an allergist includes allergic reactions to food, drugs, animals, asthma, hives (urticaria), eczema (atopic dermatitis), hay fever (allergic rhinitis), sinusitis, and immune disorders that results to frequent infections such as pneumonia and thrush.
What are the Educational Qualifications?
First, you have to enroll and attend at a college or university of your choice and should complete a premedical course for 4 years. After which, you need to have at least 4 years of education at a medical school which would earn you a title of doctor of medicine (MD). Among the subjects that are needed to complete in the premedical undergraduate studies are biology, the humanities, English, social sciences, physics, and organic and inorganic chemistry.
In the first 2 years of studying at a medical school, as a student, you will take up subjects in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, classes in laws governing medicine, and medical ethics. You will be also trained in examining patients, get their medical history, and diagnose diseases.
In the final 2 years of medical education, you will now be exposed in the actual setting. You will have to care for patients in hospitals and clinics with various medical conditions, under the guidance and supervision of veteran physicians. Throughout this course, you will learn acute, chronic, preventive and rehabilitative care as you will undergo rotations in family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery.
When you have finished your course at a medical school, you will have to complete 3 years of supplemental training either in pediatrics of or internal medicine to become an allergist/immunologist. After this residency, as an internist, you must pass the board examination of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). For a pediatrician, he or she should also pass the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). These examinations are available in United States of America. The board examinations depend and vary on the country where you are residing.
Acquiring Board Certification
In order for you to be a certified allergist, you need to specialize in allergy/immunology then finish 2 years of education (called as fellowship) in an allergy/immunology training program. After which, you should pass a certifying examination which is given by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI).
To venture in this career path would require most of your time, patience, and passion. Though the course may look lengthy, it would be all worth it when you get to finish line. For as long as you have commitment and love in your job, you will definitely succeed.