How many people do you know that have allergies? Perhaps you have allergies. Allergies are still not well understood. However, it is known that this response is an abnormal reaction to something that is generally not harmful to other people. Reactions that people experience can be minor to deadly such as skin rashes, inflammation, coughing, sneezing, asthma and anaphylactic shock. If you have an interest in allergies, you might consider becoming an allergist. An allergist is a physician that diagnoses, and treats allergies.
To become an allergist you have to have good grades in high school and have taken a college entrance exam such as (SAT/ACT) and made a high score. It is best if you have taken science courses in high school such as chemistry, biology and physics because you will need this when you take pre-med. You’ll need to get a bachelor’s degree (4-year undergrad degree). Your first two years are pre-med which includes courses such as general chemistry, organic chemistry, two terms of physics, calculus I and II along with English composition, English literature as well as courses in humanities, philosophies, history etc. The last two years you load up on biology courses. You can study other major areas such as psychology, humanities, sociology etc. However, biology is really your best bet. In biology, you’ll learn anatomy and physiology, cell, immunology, molecular biology etc. This prepares you well for med school.
Once you have completed your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to apply for med school. Before you can apply, you’ll need to have taken your MCAT exam and passed it with a high score. Your need 4 to 5 letters of recommendation and letter of intent. If the med school is sufficiently impressed they will grant you an interview. This interview is important. You might want to talk to some MDs to find out what kind of questions they ask. The interview could make or break you. Hopefully, you made it in.
Med school runs four years. The first two years consists of coursework such as anatomy and physiology, biochem, microbiology, pharmacology and a number of other general med courses. The next two years provides you with hands-on training known as rotations in hospital and clinics where you are exposed to each of the fields in medicine. Once you complete med school and pass it, you’ll need at least 8 more years of training in internal medicine and/or pediatrics. This is called taking up residency.
You’ll need to be board certified to practice as a doctor of internal medicine or pediatrician. Allergists take the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) exam or the American Boards of Pediatrics (ABP) exam. Many allergists take the American Boards of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI) exam as well. Your residency program will guide you through that. Once your residency has been completed, you’ll need to go into a fellowship program (usually two years) in allergy and immunology training. Once completed, you’ll need to take the Board of Allergy and Immunology exams. Once you have completed all of this and passed, you are now an allergist. Congratulations!
Keep in mind that you must keep up-to-date on advances in medicine so you must complete continuing education by attending workshops, seminars and conferences.