How to Become an Allergist or Immunologist
1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)
Aspiring family physicians must first complete a bachelor's degree program in order to continue on to medical school.
Traditionally, premed programs offered by nearly all major universities, but are not necessarily required to enter medical school.
Programs that emphasize science, such as biology, physics, or physiology, may also be sufficient as medical school qualifications.
However, those that are certain they want to enter this, or any other, medical profession should pursue a premed program.
The preparation timeline below offers an example premed curriculum:
|Grade Level||Example Courses|
2. Take the Medical College Admission Test MCAT)
To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.
The MCAT is divided into four sections:
|Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems||
|Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems||
|Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior||
|Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills||
You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the AAMC website.
3. Earn a Medical Degree (4 Years)
For more information and advice on successfully getting into medical school, you can check with the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Medical school consists of four years of studying the basics in science and participating in clinical “rotations.” These are hands-on clinical experiences in real health care settings.
In most med schools, the first two years are taken up with classroom studies before students are assigned to do rotations.
The current trend, however, finds a number of medical schools exposing students to early clinical experiences that continue throughout the four-year program.
Most medical schools base their curriculum on a system-based approach that focuses on one physiological system at a time, such as the respiratory system or the nervous system.
Still others may use a case-based curriculum that teaches about the human body’s normal functioning and disease processes by assigning students to following individual patient cases from start to finish. Still other med schools use a combination of these approaches to educate their students.
The most common lines of coursework among medical schools consist of the following subjects:
During the last two years of schooling, students are required to obtain hands-on experience at hospitals and clinics, learning to diagnose and treat patients while working under the supervision of licensed physicians.
Upon completion of four years of med school, a student is awarded a medical degree, or M.D. Another popular trend is for schools to offer combination degree programs, such as MD/MPH, MD/PHD or MD/JD.
The AAMC’s website on Medical School Admission Requirements offers more information on this option.
|3rd, 4th, 5th||
4. Take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)
In order to practice medicine, aspiring geriatricians must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
|Step & Purpose||Format & Info|
Assess the ability to apply scientific concepts basic to practicing medicine, emphasizing mechanisms underlying health, disease, and therapy.
Divided into 2 sub-steps: clinical knowledge (CK) & clinical skills (CS).
Clinical knowledge assesses the ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and clinical science to patient care.
Clinical skills assesses the ability to gather information from patients, perform physical exams, and communicate findings with colleagues.
Divided into 2 sub-steps: Foundations of Independent Practice (FIP) & Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM)
Foundations of Independent Practice assesses the knowledge and principles essential for effective health care.
Advanced Clinical Medicine assesses the ability to apply knowledge of health and disease to the context of patient management and an evolving disease.
5. Complete a Residency Program (3 - 4 Years)
After completing med school, you aren’t finished yet. Now it’s time to choose your specialty and complete your residency.
These residency programs are offered in conjunction with intensive clinical training experiences. Depending on the specialty, residency can last from three to eight years.
The American Medical Association’s online FREIDA service is an interactive database of over 9,400 graduate medical education programs.
These programs are all accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. There is also information on over 200 combined specialty programs.
6. Complete an Allergy & Immunology Fellowship Training Program (2 Years)
Aspiring allergists and immunologists must complete a fellowship training program in which applications are processed through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).
Fellows must ultimately demonstrate proficiency in the following:
- Allergen immunotherapy
- Bronchoprovaction challenge
- Delayed hypersensitivity skin testing
- Drug desensitization and challenge
- Immediate hypersensitivity skin testing
- Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy
- Oral food challenge
- Performance and interpretation of pulmonary function tests
Fellows are tasked with performing supervised inpatient and outpatient consults, interpreting diagnostic tests, assessing risks and benefits of specific therapies and treatments, and counseling patients regarding disorders.
7. Earn the Required Certification
The American Board of Allergy & Immunology (ABAI) offers the certification for allergists and immunologists.
In order to be eligible, candidates must have first completed their fellowship and they must complete the certification within 5 years.