What is an Allergist? An Overview


The field of medicine is filled with many different specialties and subspecialties. This can make understanding the many types of physicians that exist more difficult. Today, we’ll focus on a more obscure type of physician: an allergist. So, what is an allergist? Continue reading for a brief overview of this subspecialty and why you should consider becoming one!

what is an allergist

What is an Allergist?

Let’s start with the basics. An allergist is a physician who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, management, and treatment of allergic disease. In addition to allergies, allergists also treat patients with asthma and other diseases of the immune system. Allergists take detailed patient histories. This includes information regarding a patient’s symptoms, such as family history and home and work environments. It is also common for allergists to perform skin testing and other diagnostic tests. Allergists are sometimes called immunologists. However, there are a few minor differences between the two.

Necessary Skills for an Allergist 

Allergists need to be great communicators. They need to be able to obtain relevant information from patients in order to identify a diagnosis. After determining the problem, an allergist needs to effectively explain the condition and treatment options to their patients. Whether they’re diagnosing cases or working on specific treatment plans, allergists need to be problem solvers. They must rule out several possibilities before they can identify an accurate diagnosis or treatment. This process is not always quick. Sometimes, it can take months. Therefore, one of the most important characteristics of an allergist is patience.

Educational Requirements for Allergists

Now that we’ve answered the question of “What is an Allergist?”, let’s discuss the process of becoming one. Allergists need to complete 4 years of premedical education. After this, they must also complete at least 4 years of medical school in order to become a doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO). The schedule of a typical premedical student consists of undergraduate classes such as biology, mathematics, physics, and inorganic and organic chemistry, anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, microbiology, pathology, medical ethics, and classes in medical law. Students will also learn how to perform medical histories, examinations, and diagnoses.

Towards the end of medical school, students will begin to care for patients. A group of experienced physicians will oversee this care. Hands-on experience allows medical students to better learn acute, chronic, preventive, and rehabilitative care.

After medical school, an aspiring allergist must complete 3 years of additional training in either internal medicine or pediatrics. Once their residency is complete, they must pass the examination of either the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) or the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP).

American Board of Allergy and Immunology Certification

One of the final steps in the process of becoming an allergist is to complete at least two years of study in an allergy training program. This period of study is commonly referred to as a fellowship. In order to be officially certified, allergists must pass an examination administered by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology at the end of their fellowship. 

Career Outlook

Becoming an allergist is a very rewarding career move. In addition to helping patients overcome their ailments, allergists enjoy great benefits and pay. The average annual salary for this subspecialty is about $295,862. This figure has grown since 2018. The salary potential for allergists is also very favorable. Experts expect this field to see a 16% increase in salary over the next five years. This will bring the average annual salary up to $342,986! 


Do you have any questions about what an allergist is or how to become one? Let us know in the comments below!

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