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The Specialty of Allergy/Immunology

Members of the specialty of Allergy/Immunology are physicians who are specifically trained to diagnose and treat patients who have asthma, allergic and immunologic diseases. An Allergist-Immunologist is a physician who has successfully completed an accredited educational program in Allergy and Immunology. A board-certified Allergist also holds a certification from the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI).

Training required to become an Allergist/Immunologist

It usually takes at least nine years of training beyond a bachelor’s degree for a physician to become an Allergist/Immunologist. After completing medical school (usually 4 years) and graduating with a medical degree (either MD or DO in the U. S.), a physician planning to specialize in allergy/immunology must next undergo three or four years of residency training either in Internal Medicine (to become an Internist) or Pediatrics (to become a Pediatrician) or Med-Peds (which is a combination of both). Once this primary specialty training is completed, it is necessary for the Allergy/Immunology candidate to pass the certification exam of either the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) or both.

To specialize in Allergy-Immunology, it is next necessary for the candidate to complete at least two additional years as a fellow in an accredited Allergy-Immunology training program. This qualifies the individual to sit for the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI) certification exam. To be listed as ABAI-certified, it is necessary for the candidate to successfully pass the certifying examination. This demonstrates that the Allergist/Immunologist has the knowledge, skills, and experience required to provide high-quality care to patients with allergic and immunologic disorders.

What Board Certification Means

As described on the American Board of Medical Specialties website, “Specialty certification in the United States is a voluntary process. While medical licensure sets the minimum competency requirements to diagnose and treat patients, it is not specialty specific. Board certification—and the Gold Star—demonstrate a physician’s exceptional expertise in a particular specialty and/or subspecialty of medical practice.

The Gold Star signals a board certified physician’s commitment and expertise in consistently achieving superior clinical outcomes in a responsive, patient-focused setting. Patients, physicians, healthcare providers, insurers and quality organizations look for the Gold Star as the best measure of a physician’s knowledge, experience and skills to provide quality healthcare within a given specialty.”

The American Board of Medical Specialties recognizes 145 medical specialties and subspecialties and the American Board of Allergy and Immunology is the only recognized specialty that cares for patients with allergic and immunological diseases.

Read more about Specialty Board Certification

What does an allergist do?

Patients often ask “Why do I need an allergist?

When should I see an allergist?”

“Can allergist provide the best patient outcomes at a lower cost than my primary care physician?”

For answers to these and other questions click here.

The Allergist: The Detective

A board-certified Allergist treats many diseases and addresses many complex symptoms. In many ways, the Allergist is the detective in the medical family, solving the mystery of what is causing the congested nose, the undiagnosed cough, the shortness of breath or the itchy rash.


Examples of Diagnosed Diseases

Examples of symptoms

  • Asthma
  • Chronic cough
  • Allergic Rhinitis
  • Nasal congestion
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Runny Nose
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Chronic Headache
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Shortness of breath
  • Eczema
  • Itch
  • Food Allergy
  • Rash
  • Sinusitis
  • Recurrent infections
  • Insect Sting Reactions
  • Reactions to medications
  • Immune Deficiency disorders
  • Drug Allergies

Allergy/Asthma Crisis

With the increasing worldwide prevalence of allergies and asthma, it is estimated that the demand for Allergists will increase by 35% by 2020. Can we meet this need? Read more.

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