Allergy and Immunology
What does an Allergist/Immunologist do?
What are the career opportunities?
What Board, if any, certifies a Allergist/Immunologist?
What is the lifestyle of a Allergist/Immunologist?
What is the compensation of a Allergist/Immunologist?
How do I become a Allergist/Immunologist?
Where do I find out about available programs?
When do I apply?
Why should I choose to become a Allergist/Immunologist?
Specialists in the field of Allergy and Immunology have a very wide range of career opportunities within research, education and clinical practice. The Allergist/Immunologist is trained to diagnose and manage both children and adults with a variety of medical problems including:
- Diseases of the respiratory tract such as rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and occupational lung diseases
- Allergic diseases of the eye including allergic conjunctivitis
- Allergic and certain non-allergic conditions of the skin including atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, acute/chronic urticaria or angioedema
- Adverse reactions to foods, drugs, vaccines, stinging insects, and other agents
- Diseases associated with autoimmune responses, or auto-inflammatory syndromes
- Diseases of the immune system including primary immunodeficiency disorders such as severe combined immunodeficiency syndromes, antibody deficiencies, complement deficiency, phagocytic cell abnormalities, or other impairments in innate immunity or secondary immunodeficiency disorders
- Stem cell, bone marrow and/or organ transplantation
- Gastrointestinal disorders caused by immune responses to foods including eosinophilic esophagitis, gastroenteritis or colitis, food protein-induced enteropathies
- Systemic diseases including anaphylaxis and mast cell mediated disorders
The specialist in Allergy/Immunology may pursue a wide range of career opportunities. Some choose clinical careers in either private offices or teaching hospitals, while others are involved primarily in research as physician-scientists at medical schools, or pursue opportunities in government or industry.
Academic Clinician: This type of position frequently combines patient care with medical student/resident teaching and research in an academic medical center.
Physician Scientist: Allergy/Immunology trained physicians can pursue research-based careers in basic science, clinical research including clinical trials, and Quality Improvement (QI).
Private Practice: There are a wide variety of options in private practice spanning from both small/large group Allergy practices to ones incorporated with ENT or other subspecialty or primary care groups. One can also be employed by a corporation.
Government: Careers in the government in the field of Allergy/Immunology can consist of being a practicing Allergist/Immunologist in the US Military or working for a government agency in a clinical and/or advocacy position.
Industry: Pharmaceutical companies develop medications and therapeutic options aimed at improving the treatment of allergic/immunologic disease. Allergy/Immunology experts play an important role throughout the development and evaluation process.
What Board, if any, certifies an Allergist/Immunologist?
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. The Allergist/Immunologist receives 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).
What is the lifestyle of an Allergist/Immunologist?
The majority of Allergy/Immunology subspecialists work approximately 40 hours per week. There are opportunities for full-time as well as part-time employment in academic or community practice settings and in solo or group practice. Call responsibilities vary upon the type and size of practice (academic versus private practice; solo versus group practice). Inpatient and evening/weekend call/consult responsibilities also vary depending upon the type of practice setting.
What is the compensation of an Allergist/Immunologist?
Salary and benefits vary depending upon the type and location of practice as well as seniority and level of expertise. Depending upon the nature of the practice, there may be opportunities to buy in to or achieve ownership in the practice. Some practices are highly lucrative.
How do I become an Allergist/Immunologist?
To become an Allergist/Immunologist, a physician must first complete an approved residency in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine or combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics. Applications for Allergy/Immunology fellowship are processed through ERAS and training programs participate in the NRMP. Allergy/immunology fellowship involves successful completion of 24 months of an educational program that includes training in both children and adults. There are a number of programs that can provide an additional 12 months of training for persons interested in a research and/or an advanced degree in a variety of areas including education or business.
Where do I find out 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.
When do I apply?
Applications for allergy/immunology fellowship are processed through ERAS. Interested applicants can begin accessing ERAS and uploading their applications in July of their last year of residency. Individual programs can begin reviewing ERAS materials immediately and typically offer interviews during the late summer and early fall. NRMP match day for Allergy/Immunology is in late November/early December prior to the anticipated July 1st start date. For match statistics, click here.
Why should I choose to become an allergist/immunologist?
Allergy/Immunology represents a vibrant, exciting & challenging career path for physicians interested in working with patients of all ages with a wide range of allergic and immunologic diseases. The subspecialty provides the opportunity to work with patients with common diseases such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, atopic dermatitis, and immune-mediated food hypersensitivities. The subspecialty also provides the opportunity to work with patients with rare and potentially life-threatening disorders of the immune system and to manage more complex issues related to diagnosis and treatment. The field of immunology is rapidly advancing and individuals pursuing research careers in the subspecialty have the ability to advance medical knowledge and to translate this in to clinically relevant strategies for diagnosis and treatment of allergic and immunologic conditions. Food allergy is another disease in which the methods of diagnosis and exciting treatment options are expanding as both clinical and basic science research continues to grow and enhance our knowledge on the subtleties and intricacies of that diagnosis. The nature of the subspecialty is such that the physician can follow an individual patient throughout their life, and also provide care to other family members of all ages who have the same or similar condition.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has produced a series of “Why A/I?” videos that explore the subspecialty in more detail.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) is a professional association of allergists and the leading authority on allergic conditions such as allergies and asthma. Find out about how allergists are improving the lives of those suffering from these conditions.
For more information about Allergy/Immunology, visit these websites:
American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Allergy/Immunology
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Clinical Immunology Society
Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Journal of Clinical Immunology
Pediatric Allergy and Immunology
Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Pulmonology
These individuals have offered to be available to medical students/residents to discuss their particular subspecialty. Questions could include the choice of subspecialty, lifestyle, job opportunities and the fellowship application process. This is not meant to be a long term mentorship relationship.
1) Paul J Dowling, MD
University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine
Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics
Interests: Food Allergy, Asthma, Drug Allergy
2) Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, MD
Nicklaus Children’s Hospital
Interests: Primary Immunodeficiency, Anaphylaxis, and Food allergy
3) Kenneth Paris, MD MPH
LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans
Interests: Primary Immunodeficiency, Food Allergy
4) Rebecca Scherzer, MD
Ohio State University College of Medicine/Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Interests: Food Allergy, Primary Immunodeficiency, and Medical Educartion
Find a local allergist to speak with. Especially consider members of the SOAI of the AAP, Directors of the ABAI, ACAAI, AAAAI.
Proposed Electives for a Resident Entering Allergy and Immunology
Below is a list of suggested (not mandatory) rotations that a resident could consider if they are planning to apply in this particular subspecialty. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive curriculum, but rather a list to create a program that fits a resident’s individual needs.
- Allergy-Immunology (important to rotate in a clinic that sees both children and adults)
- Dermatology (very important)
- Consider ENT
- Consider nephrology and hematology-oncology
- Infectious disease