Allergy / immunology represents a vibrant, challenging career path for physicians and allied health professionals interested in working with patients of all ages with a wide range of allergic and immunologic diseases.
What does an allergist / immunologist do?
Specialists in allergy and immunology have a range of opportunities within research, education and clinical practice. An allergist / immunologist may manage pediatric and adult patients with a variety of medical problems including:
a) Diseases of the respiratory tract such as allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and occupational lung diseases
b) Allergic diseases of the eye including allergic conjunctivitis
c) Allergic conditions of the skin including atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, acute/chronic urticaria or angioedema
d) Adverse reactions to foods, drugs, vaccines, stinging insects and other agents
e) Diseases associated with autoimmune responses to self-antigens, or auto-inflammatory syndromes
f) Diseases of the immune system including primary immune deficiencies such as severe combined immune deficiency syndromes, antibody deficiencies, complement deficiency, phagocytic cell abnormalities, or other impairments in innate immunity and acquired immune deficiency related to HIV infection or drug-induced immune suppression.
g) Stem cell, bone marrow and/or organ transplantation
h) Gastrointestinal disorders caused by immune responses to foods including eosinophilic esophagitis or gastroenteritis, food protein-induced enteropathies
i) Systemic diseases including anaphylaxis and systemic diseases involving mast cells or eosinophils
Why should I choose to become an allergist / immunologist?
The subspecialty offers the opportunity to work with patients with common diseases such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, atopic dermatitis, and immune-mediated food hypersensitivities. The field of immunology is rapidly advancing, and the subspecialty provides opportunities to work with patients with rare and potentially life-threatening disorders of the immune system, as well as managing more complex issues related to diagnosis and treatment.
Individuals pursuing research careers in the subspecialty have the ability to advance medical knowledge and to translate it into clinically relevant strategies for diagnosis and treatment of allergic and immunologic conditions. In allergy / immunology, a physician can follow individual patients throughout their lives, and also provide care to other family members of all ages who have the same or similar condition.
Some A/I specialists choose clinical careers in either private offices or teaching hospitals; while others are involved primarily in research as physician-scientists at medical schools, or in government or industry. The academic allergist / immunologist frequently combines patient care with medical school teaching and research.
Watch these videos and find out why AAAAI members selected a career in allergy / immunology.
What board certifies an allergist / immunologist?
In the United States, an allergist / immunologist is a physician certified first in either internal medicine, pediatrics or both who has completed an additional two years of fellowship training in an ACGME accredited allergy / immunology training program. Allergist / immunologists receive their subspecialty certification from the American Board of Allergy & Immunology (ABAI), which is a conjoint board of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) and the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).
How do I become an allergist / immunologist?
To become an allergist / immunologist, a physician must first complete a residency in pediatrics, internal medicine or combined med-peds. Applications for allergy / immunology fellowship are processed through ERAS and training programs participate in the NRMP. A/I fellowship involves successful completion of 24 months of an educational program that includes training in both children and adults.
Where do I learn about available programs?
Information about allergy / immunology fellowship programs can be accessed through FREIDA, ERAS, ACGME or the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
The AAAAI offers the Chrysalis Project to U.S. and Canadian medical students and internal medicine and/or pediatric residents so they have the opportunity to explore a potential career in allergy / immunology.
What opportunities are available in Allied Health?
Allied Health professionals play an integral role in the allergy / immunology subspecialty. Many Allied Health professionals in allergy / immunology follow individual patients throughout their lives, as well as interface with other family members of all ages who have the same or similar condition. Career choices include allergy technicians, nurse practitioners (NPs), registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), physician assistants (PAs) and medical administrators.
Visit the AAAAI’s Career Connections Center to search for Allied Health opportunities.