An allergist is a pediatric and/or internal medicine physician who has undergone at least two additional years of specialized training in Allergy & Immunology. Allergists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat patients who have asthma, allergies, and immunologic diseases. No other physician specialty has this level of expertise in treating patients with these conditions.
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.