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Allergist


How to become an Allergist
Allergist Job Duties
Skills and Qualities to become an Allergist
Allergist Salaries
Influential Professionals in this Field
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Allergist Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Allergist

To become an allergist, one must basically become a doctor. This requires from 11 - 16 years of post-high school education, possibly internships, a residency period and the passing of not one but sometimes several exams. To become a specialist, which is what allergists are, additional certification in this subspecialty requires an additional 1 or 2 years of residency in this specific area.

The formal education part of becoming a doctor usually requires and undergraduate degree in some pre-med major (4 years), medical school (4 years) and internship + residency (up to 8 years). The duration of the last part is what varies for specialists, including allergists. The undergraduate course of study includes work in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Many students also volunteer or do internships at hospitals or clinics to gain hands-on experience.

Although some medical schools only require 3 years of college education, most require a completed bachelors degree. Many entering students also have post-graduate degrees before entering medical school. The two degrees types awarded at medical schools are the typical M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) and the lesser known D.O (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). It is common knowledge that entrance into medical school is competitive, and other non-academic requirements come into play in the admissions process, such as an applicant's volunteer history, personal ethics and character, management and leadership skills and other extracurricular activities. As a result, interviews are common place as a part of the admissions process. Medical school involves two main areas of study: formal in-class course work and laboratory work. In addition to studying the sciences themselves, students also learn about how to work with patients and how to apply their knowledge to make diagnoses and recommend treatments. They also spend some time, called rotations, in each of the major disciplines of medicine.

The path to doctor-hood does not end with obtaining an M.D. or D.O. degree, but it continues with the period of training called residency, which is basically paid on-the-job training. Most residencies are done at a hospital.

Although doctors - specially specialists like allergists - are reported to make a lot of money, few people also factor into this blanket statement the expenses of becoming a doctor, which are quite costly.

All physicians should be licensed and all states/territories of the US require licensing. There appear to be many reciprocity agreements between state medical licensure, but as usual with professional occupations, licensure varies from state to state. In addition to the general medical licensing, allergists must also become certified and pass an additional exam and do additional specific residency in their area to be formally called an allergist.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) is required to maintain a medical license. State medical boards as well as other non-profit and for-profit organizations provide opportunities for doctors in the fast-paced field of medicine.

What does an Allergist do?

An allergist is a type of physician and focus on treating the symptoms and causes of allergic reactions, which have much to do with the body's immune system; they are sometimes lumped together with immunologists for this reason. Allergic reactions are basically the body's treatment of a foreign object (allergen) as harmful and attacking it aggressively. Some typical allergens are pollen, dust, and pet dander. Allergists deal much with the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, skin and GI tract of patients, and the allergens the deal with can range from synthetic drugs to foods to insects. Where as immunology covers a much broader scope of immune system disorders and functions, allergists deal only with allergies - one reaction by the immune system.

Obviously, the treatments and methodologies applied to particular allergies vary widely, allergists can help patients identify what they are specifically allergic to. Some allergists focus on children's allergies while others practice with a more general age group. Typical treatments of allergies would be instruction for a patient to avoid a particularly dangerous allergen, prescription of medications that lessen the symptoms and/or immune system reactions against an allergen, and administration of what are typically called allergy shots, which are intended to help the body acclimate to an allergen in an effort to induce tolerance.

What skills or qualities are needed to become an Allergist?

Not only must allergist become doctors and spend extra time and become certified in their particular area, allergists - like all physicians who deal directly with people - must have a good beside manner, which requires good people skills, composure, compassion and clear-thinking during crises. Problem solving skills and logical reasoning are an absolute must for physicians, and especially for allergists as they try to identify the cause of allergies, diagnose, and recommend treatment. Mental and physical endurance are also important, due to the length of time and the difficulty of becoming a doctor and then specialist.

How much do Allergists make?

In general, physicians' earnings vary widely, mostly due to whom they work for - including private hospitals, government-owned hospitals, special laboratories, or themselves. As of May 2007, physician's wages started from about $50,000 per year upwards. Upper wage ranges are not easy to discern, but many upper end wages were well into the 6-figure range, hovering around $180,000 - $190,000 per year. Specialists who practiced in special medical and diagnostic laboratories tended to be on the higher end while medical consultants tended to be on the lower end.


Who are some Influential Professionals in this field?

The field of allergy/immunology is vast. For an idea of who some of today's top minds are in this area, it is recommend that you look at the boards, leadership, and regents of some of the below leading organizations, especially the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

Who are some leading organizations in this field?

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology - professional association for allergists/immunologists.

American Board of Allergy and Immunology - the allergy/immunology board a part of the ABMS (see below.

American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) - this organization represents over 20 groups related to various medical specialties, including allergy/immunology.

Association of American Medical Colleges - leading organization for US medical programs, medical schools, teaching hospitals, academic societies, and students/teachers.

American Medical Association - leading professional organization of the US medical field and practitioners.

American College of Physicians - another leading US professional organization focusing on physicians who focus on disease treatment for adults.

What are the top cities for Allergist Jobs?

For the specific job of allergist, there does not seem to be any one state or metropolitan area with high concentrations of job openings. This is fairly typical for medical specialists vs. more general medical practitioners. Any "tier 1" city such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, or NYC will surely have opportunities for Allergists.

Other Careers of Interest

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