How Do I Become an Allergy Immunologist?

Nicole Long

Extensive education and training is necessary if you hope to become an allergy immunologist. Beyond the traditional medical school education, allergy immunologists must also participate in additional training to gain the skills necessary to serve patients. Certification after the successful passage of a written examination is also required to become an allergy immunologist.

An allergy immunologist's research can lead to treating allergies and immune system issues.
An allergy immunologist's research can lead to treating allergies and immune system issues.

Allergy immunologists, also referred to as allergists, are medical professionals trained in the specialty of allergy and immunology. Allergists have specific training to help identify, treat, and manage diseases related to allergies and immune system deficiencies. They prescribe medications, recommend lifestyle changes, and perform ongoing tests to ensure patients are able to participate in life’s activities, such as work, school, and social outings.

An allergy immunologist can help a patient manage long-term allergies.
An allergy immunologist can help a patient manage long-term allergies.

Someone hoping to become an allergy immunologist should prepare themselves for a rigorous and long educational path. An undergraduate degree is often the first requirement. The degree can be in various fields, though it should prepare an individual for the difficulties and coursework commonly found in medical school. Options for undergraduate degrees include pre-med, biology, and chemistry.

Allergy immunologists may focus on seasonal allergies.
Allergy immunologists may focus on seasonal allergies.

After the successful completion of an undergraduate degree, someone hoping to become an allergy immunologist must be accepted to medical school. Acceptance into medical school is competitive and will require candidates to have excellent grades, excellent references, and meet additional criteria, such as scoring well on a standardized test, prior to entry. Medical school lasts three years, at which time an individual looking to become an allergy immunologist will need to continue on with training specific to the specialty of allergy and immunology.

Once candidates graduates medical school, they typically receive additional on-the-job training. An individual hoping to become an allergy immunologist would spend three years training as either an internist or pediatrician. They would then continue on with an additional two years of training in an allergy and immunology fellowship. This additional two years of training will prepare a candidate to handle the needs of patients that suffer from allergies and immune system deficiencies.

Various certification examinations will be required along the way if you want to become an allergy immunologist. Certification will be required after the initial completion of training to become a pediatrician or internist. This will qualify an individual to practice as an internist or pediatrician, or continue on to study in other specialties. Once a candidate finishes the two year fellowship to gain experience in the specific field of allergy and immunology, they will need to complete an additional certification examination to ensure they meet the standards set by the responsible certification board.

Allergy immunologists often begin as internists or pediatricians.
Allergy immunologists often begin as internists or pediatricians.

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