Allergists/immunologists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating asthma, allergic conditions and immunologic diseases. They may be involved in stem cell, bone marrow and organ transplantation, and they often deal with rare and life-threatening diseases. The path to becoming this specialist includes four years of undergraduate study, four years of medical school, three to four years of residency and at least two additional years in a fellowship program.
Undergraduate Pre-Med Course Requirements
To qualify for medical school, students usually major in biology, chemistry or biochemistry, but other majors are acceptable as long as the required courses are completed. These include one year of biology, one year each of organic and inorganic chemistry and a course in biochemistry, all with labs. Most schools additionally require physics with lab and a year of both calculus and English composition.
Medical School Requirements and Admission Test
The Medical School Admission Requirements online provides specific information for all accredited schools in the United State and Canada including application procedures, necessary coursework and deadlines. The MSAR also features the newest medical schools in both countries. Reviewing the requirements of schools the student hopes to apply for is a step that should be taken early in the undergraduate years.
Following the third undergraduate year, students sit for the Medical School Admission Test, which focuses on science and math but also looks for aptitude in writing and communication skills.
Medical School Courses
Medical schools across the U.S. and Canada share a similar curriculum throughout the four years of the program. The first two years focus on the basics of biology and chemistry as in college, but in addition, students are quickly brought into a clinical focus.
For example, at Stanford's School of Medicine, the four years are arranged in five blocks: Foundations of Medicine, Human Health and Disease, Practice of Medicine, Clinical Clerkships and, lastly, Reflection, Research and Advances in Patient Care. The approach moves from almost entirely classroom-based the first year to entirely clinical and research-based during the final two years.
Residency and Fellowship
After medical school, all students must complete three to four years in either an internal medicine or pediatric residency or a combination of both. At the conclusion, doctors must take the certification exam administered by the American Board of Pediatrics or the American Board of Internal Medicine, or both.
During an approximate two-year fellowship, the actual emphasis on allergy/immunology takes place, which culminates in the certification exam given by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.
Tonda Bian is an education specialist. She has Bachelor's and Masters degrees both specializing in education and English. She also has an EJD in law--research and writing. Her career has included teaching in three colleges and working as a researcher, writer and editor for more than 20 years.