An allergist or immunologist is a board certified medical specialist who treats allergies and disorders of the immune system. He or she alleviates diseases such as asthma, sinus, skin conditions, swelling and other allergic reactions that result from the intake of certain materials or from exposure to substances in the surroundings.
Allergist Job Responsibilities
An allergist has critical responsibilities because allergies can complicate simple medical procedures. The duties of an allergist range from providing straightforward diagnoses to doing complicated medical detection work in order to provide the right cure. Accuracy is of foremost importance.
The human body is made of chemicals. Changes in the seasons, intake of medications, food and liquid, insect bites, and allergens in the environment like dust, spray, fragrance, powder, etc. affect everyone differently. An allergic reaction can be minor to life threatening. A mild rash or an itch is an example a mild allergic reaction while difficulty in breathing is a severe symptom.
When a patient goes to an allergist, the first thing the allergist does is to interview the patient systematically. The doctor will ask the patient in detail about his or her food, liquid, drug and day-to-day habits, including descriptions of the environment. The allergist has a vast amount of knowledge that enables him or her analyze the problem precisely. When necessary, the allergist writes a script for blood or skin tests to find the source of the allergy. The test is sent to a medical laboratory where it is processed immediately. Right after that, the laboratory sends the results to the allergist who notifies the patient, without delay, what causes his allergy. The allergist also advises the patient of options and substitutes. Example, if the patient is lactose intolerant, the doctor will tell him not to drink milk and suggest Lactaid as an alternative. An allergist can also inject antidotes to the allergy or prescribe topical ointments and prescription drugs.
Training and Education Requirements
A Bachelor’s Degree is required before anyone can enroll in medical school. Once enrolled, the student has to finish four years of medical curriculum. An additional three years of training as an intern (in residency) of a hospital is mandatory.
A final step called fellowship is requisite. This takes another two years of education.
Although tuition is expensive, there are many federal and private resources such grants from foundations and tuition assistance. There are also work programs and financial aid packages that offer the serious student the means to be become a Doctor of Allergy and Immunology.
Allergist Salary and Wages
The annual salary of an allergists starts at $105.000. The median salary ranges from $115,000. to $150,000. It is not unusual for an allergist to earn more than that. In fact, there are allergists who earn $195,000.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
After completing fellowship, the allergist is required to pass the board exams in order to be licensed to practice. The graduate has two choices. The first choice is the ABIM, which is the American Board of Internal Medicine. The second choice is the ABP, which is the Board of Pediatrics examination. Once the exam is passed, the medical graduate can proceed to take the ABAI, which is the American Board of Allergy and Immunology examination.
Passing these exams, the doctor is issued a license and becomes a bona-fide allergists and immunologist.
Allergist Professional Associations
An allergist must be aware of the constant progress and advances in the field. To do this, the allergist must attend meetings, continuing education seminars and workshops. Subscription to newsletters and journals is necessary.
It is important to join professional associations. This promotes colleague interaction and gives the allergist the opportunity to share valuable up to the minute knowledge of the developments around the world.
Professional organizations are excellent ways of learning and discussing the pros and cons of the latest discoveries. It is an effective way to support collaboration. The groups are also resources for jobs.
A few of these associations are: The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is an association has more than 6,000 members internationally. The AAAAI provides funding, training, presentations of the latest progress, sets standards, advocates and provides job links.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is located in Illinois. It is devoted to raising awareness and improving the treatment of allergy and immunology. It has 5,000-member physician and accepts non-members. It is a good resource for finding an allergist. It also has a non-profit foundation that is dedicated to promoting education, research and other advances.
The Food, Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network is composed of physicians and lay people. These members include government employees working for health and human services. There are more than 20,000 members.
The Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is a powerful lobby in Washington, DC. The association promotes awareness of allergy through media campaigns.