How To Become An Immunologist
Career Video: Immunologist
An immunologist is a type of physician. They specialize in diseases of the immune system. Immunologists are interested in learning about these diseases and treatment methods to help those affected. Their work often focuses on finding solutions to combat immune diseases. Some immunologists work in research laboratories, while others work in clinics and doctor offices. This career involves many years of education and experience. Overall it takes approximately 17 years of higher education to become an immunologist.
Why Become An Immunologist
Immune diseases occur when the body’s immune system attacks normal, healthy cells. There are many immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, and more.
Allergies are closely related. Allergies happen when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance, such as pollen, dust, grass, foods, and other items that are commonly found in the world.
Having a disorder of the immune system can be an unbearable experience for many people. It is hard to see your own body attacking itself. For people with allergies, it makes life unpleasurable to not be able to experience the outdoors, or the foods that you love to eat, because your body will not tolerate them.
An immunologist is a physician who studies the immune system. They specialize in the diseases of the immune system and why they occur. Most importantly, they know about effective treatment options, which can help people live prosperous lives, even with their immune diseases. Some immunologists work in clinics, seeing patients. Others are more actively involved in research, learning about new treatments and solutions to combat autoimmune diseases.
Immunologists must possess the following qualities and skills:
- Good at research
- Detail oriented
- Critical thinking
Immunologist Work Environment
An immunologist is a type of physician. Immunologists may work in a group practice, hospital, or large healthcare organization. Some immunologists work for a smaller private practice or clinic. Some immunologists may have their own private practice, with a small staff that includes nurses and an administrative team. As a physician, immunologists often work very long hours. Their hours may be irregular. They may work weekend hours, depending on the practice they are a part of. They may go from office to office, visiting patients. This career involves stamina, being on feet for long periods, and interacting with patients for long periods of time.
The median salary for an immunologist was $200,000 in 2016.
An immunologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the immune system. As a medical professional, an immunologist must undergo several years of experience and education in order to earn a position in their profession. It takes several years of university education in order to become an immunologist. Because of their extensive training and education, immunologists often command a high salary.
Immunologist Career Outlook
Employment for immunologists is expected to increase by 15 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is a faster rate of growth than most other professions in the United States.
There is a growing elderly and aging population within the country. This population will drive the demand for quality medical services. Consumers have taken a vested interest in their own health care, and are interested in doing what it takes to be healthy and help themselves live longer lives. People are more informed now about possible intolerances such as celiac disease, lactose intolerance, and more, and this will have them seeking out immunologists for more information. New healthcare laws will have more people seeking out quality healthcare professionals.
If you would like to become an immunologist, read below for more information.
Step 1: Undergraduate education. You must receive a bachelor’s degree if you want to be an immunologist. Biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or other related programs are all good choices. Classes in science and math will give you a firm foundation in this field, to decide if becoming a medical professional is right for you. It takes four years to receive a bachelor’s degree.
Step 2: Medical school. After undergraduate school, you must enroll in medical school. Be sure to research schools that have strong medical programs. Apply to these programs, get accepted and enroll in the program of your choice. During medical school you will take general coursework and also get hands-on training in the medical field. You will learn more about the specialties of the medical field. It takes four years to graduate from medical school.
Step 3: Residency. This is when you choose which specialty you want to pursue within medicine. In order to become an immunologist, you must take on a residency in internal medicine. During this residency, you will work with patients, learning about the illnesses of the internal body. You will use the knowledge you have gained so far to help patients feel better. A residency in internal medicine lasts for seven years.
Step 4: Fellowship. After residency, you must take a fellowship in immunology. This gives you an in-depth look at immunology and its place in the medical world. After completing this, you are eligible to take the United States Medical Licensing Exam. If you pass, you earn a license to practice immunology. It takes 17 years total of higher education in order to become an immunologist.