An allergist / immunologist is a physician who has specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of immunologic and allergic conditions.
Essentially this means that Allergists and Immunologists focus on anything related to the immune system.
These can vary greatly, including allergies to medications, foods, environmental factors, pollen, bronchitis, sinus infections, asthma, and others.
Allergists/immunologists are also trained to manage and prevent immunological disorders, autoimmune diseases, and immunodeficiency diseases.
Most of the work done by allergists and immunologists is done in a medical office setting, with only a small amount of cases requiring them to be present in the hospital.
These cases typically include patients who have gone into anaphylactic or allergic shock. They are also often asked by other medical professionals working in hospitals for consultations on special circumstances.
Allergist and Immunologists are experts in immunology and allergic conditions and deal with the immune system in healthy or diseased conditions. There are various disorders associated with autoimmune problems or allergic conditions that you will be tasked with treating.
Allergists are also tasked with treating allergies, sinus infections, abscesses, and pneumonia.
As an Immunologist or Allergist you also have the opportunity of working in the field of research. You don’t have to exclusively work with patients as there are plenty of other opportunities to help advance the field as well.
Those Allergists and Immunologists who work in the research field focus on finding ways to treat persistent ailments and also work with individual cells or genes to find treatment options.
If the practicing field or research field doesn’t excite you, then you can also go down the education route.
Common responsibilities of allergists and immunologists include:
Diagnosing and treating disorders and diseases of the immune system or immunologic conditions.
Educate patients and their family members about some of the treatment options, prognosis, and diagnoses related to immunology and allergy conditions.
Performing laboratory procedures and examining tissue samples to determine the sources of allergies.
Conducting blood and patch tests in an effort to identify the presence of harmful allergens.
Ordering or performing various diagnostic tests that help diagnose various immunology conditions or allergic conditions.
Using biological and chemical analyses to identify harmful conditions or organisms.
Coordinating with other medical professionals, including biomedical scientists, pediatricians, and immunology nurse specialists, to determine the proper course of treatment.
Gathering and maintaining the medical histories of patients to ensure proper care in the future.
Producing and maintaining comprehensive data reports regarding specific patients and the progression or regression of their symptoms.
Conduct a thorough understanding and recording of the patient’s medical history.
Assess and inform about the various risks associated with therapy for treatment of the allergic and immunology disorders that a patient suffers from.
Evaluate and inform about treatment methods and options to improve overall patient well-being and physical condition.
Participate in continuing education courses, training activities, and additional learning opportunities.
Perform various provocation tests related to allergies through the use of nasal, bronchial, conjunctival, food, oral, and medical challenges.
Provide training and consultation education to other physicians and healthcare providers.
Advise other healthcare providers regarding allergy and immunology healthcare-related issues.
Conduct clinical research and laboratory testing on allergy and immunology concerns.
Present clinical research or laboratory research findings at national conventions, national meetings, networking meetings peer-reviewed journals, and publications.
As an immunologist or allergist, there are a host of activities that you will perform as part of your daily routine that you should expect. We will detail the list of the common activities and what you can expect to do.
• Care and Assist Others
One of the most common activities on the job that you’ll encounter as an Allergist or Immunologist is to assist and care for others. As any other healthcare professional would, you will be providing personal assistance, provide medical attention, offer emotional support, and provide other personal care that you can.
• Gathering Information
Another key component and activity that you will frequently be doing as an Allergist or Immunologist is to observe and obtain information from a host of relevant sources. Some of those sources might be peer-reviewed journals, training videos, education videos, continuing-education sources, or the common internet search.
The importance of gathering information is critical in ensuring that you provide the most efficient and effective care by using the most up-to-date information that you possibly can.
The fascinating thing about the healthcare industry is that it is constantly evolving. One of the things that constantly evolves is the way in which you provide care. Part of providing care is the method that you use to treat each patient and the technology associated with each patient.
As an Allergist or Immunologist, the methods you use to get the most effective allergy diagnostics will ultimately change and advance over time. Staying up to date on some of the modern techniques will ensure that you can accurately determine what each patient is allergic to or has immunologic conditions to.
• Solving Problems and Making Decisions
Throughout your day there will be challenging problems associated with each patient and each immunology condition that you try and counter. With each problem, you will be tasked with analyzing the important results and then making decisions on how to best approach them to solve them in the most efficient and effective manner.
• Following Close Compliance Standards
One of the reasons that Allergists and Immunologists undergo strict and lengthy training is to ensure that they understand all of the compliance and safety regulations associated with treating each patient. Poking each patient with a pinprick to determine what they are allergic to is delicate work and open for a lot of malpractice lawsuits if you do it wrong. That’s why you have to ensure that you follow the compliance standards to the letter, and stay up to date on the enhanced regulations and compliance standards as they are released.
• Staying Up To Date and Using Relevant Knowledge
One of the key aspects and activities you will be faced with as an Allergist or Immunologist is to stay up to date on all of the relevant knowledge in the industry. This means that you stay up to date on all of the new peer-reviewed journals, research studies, common care techniques, and more.
When you stay up to date on all of the new relevant knowledge within the healthcare industry and your career as an Allergist or Immunologist, you can ensure that you’re using the most effective techniques when treating the patients under your care.
Once you stay up to date on all of the relevant knowledge, your next activity method is to then implement that knowledge in your daily care techniques.
In addition, you don’t want to just stay up to date on some of the research theories or research ideas, you also want to stay up to date on the technical aspects of how to conduct your job as an Allergist or Immunologist.
• Developing and Keeping Close Relationships
The next core activity that you will be engaging in as an Immunologist or Allergist is to develop some of those interpersonal connections between the patients, their families, your co-workers, and your superiors.
One of the best things about working in the healthcare industry is that you get to meet so many different individuals each day. Not only do you get to meet different individuals each day, but you get to know them and establish close relationships with them. These relationships pay off dividends when you’re trying to develop a personal relationship with your patients. When you develop a personal relationship with your patients, you understand how to perform and provide better care for them.
Each patient responds differently to different forms of care. As a healthcare professional, when you understand how they respond to different communication methods or care methods, you can treat them more efficiently.
• Maintaining Accurate Records
Another key aspect as an effective caregiver is to make sure that you maintain and keep up-to-date records. Those records help you keep track of the prior care that you’ve given to each patient.
In addition, those accurate records will be useful when the patient seeks care from another specialist and needs accurate allergy records or immunology records.
• Communicating Effectively
As an Allergist or Immunologist, one of your key responsibilities is to communicate effectively. Most of your job will revolve around accurately communicating with patients about the information associated with the allergies or immunologic conditions that they may suffer from. In many cases, patients won’t have a deep understanding of what those conditions are or how they should go about taking care of themselves to avoid exposing themselves to unwanted scenarios.
As an allergist/immunologist you will have to provide information to your superiors, co-workers, and the family members of patients as well. Each one of these individuals will require different communication methods than the other, and you will be tasked with effective communication in each regard.
• Analyzing Important Information and Data
As an immunologist or allergist, part of your job will also involve reviewing important data and information that you then disseminate to your patients and their family members.
Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.
Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.
Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Judgment and Decision Making
Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one.
Complex Problem Solving
Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions.
Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.
Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it.
Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.
Most allergists or immunologists work in a variety of facilities or clinics. Most allergists or immunologists are employed in hospitals, clinics, and private practices and work long hours. Some of these hospitals or facilities include university medical centers, large community hospitals, children’s hospitals, or private offices.
Those employed by health networks and large clinics typically enjoy more stable hours than those working in private practices.
As we mentioned above, allergists and immunologists have a high amount of social interaction with their peers and patients, and from time to time you will be tasked with interacting with patients who don’t understand the information you are providing them and can be quite rude.
As an allergist or immunologist you will also be frequently working with a team, so you will have to be comfortable managing and maintaining team relationships.
As an allergist or immunologist, you will also be working with other physicians, scientists, researchers, or healthcare professionals that conduct research based on immunologic conditions that you could potentially use to your advantage when caring for your patients.
To learn more about how to become an Allergist / Immunologist, take the time to review our Allergist / Immunologist Career Path.
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