Imagine seeing this “Help Wanted” sign when you entered medical school: Would you even consider applying to any other program? Allergy and Immunology offer this and many more benefits.
Why would you want to be an Allergist?
Canada is in the midst of the “Allergy Epidemic”. Up to 40% of the Canadian population will be affected by at least one allergic condition in some point of their lives, and the prevalence of certain atopic conditions, such as food allergy, continue to be on the rise. Some of the allergic conditions faced by our patients are potentiallylife-threatening (e.g. food allergy is associated with a real risk of anaphylaxis; asthma excaberations are potentially fatal as well), while other conditions we treat carry huge quality of life burden for sufferers (e.g. Allergic rhinitis, Chronic Urticaria). The potential to help a large proportion of the Canadian population exists, and a lot of our treatments actually work, which leads to tremendous job satisfaction. In fact, Immunology leads the list of specialties for work/life balance as seen in the results of the Canadian Medical Association study.
What kinds of conditions do specialists in Allergy and Immunology treat?
We treat a broad diversity of patient ages and conditions, it’s one of the key allures of practicing in the field. Conditions we see include, but aren’t limited to:
- Allergic Rhinitis
- Food allergy
- Adverse Drug Reactions
- Chronic Urticaria (hives)
- Stinging Insect Allergy
- – Primary
- – Acquired
- Autoimmune diseases
- Atopic dermatitis/eczema
- Contact Dermatitis
- And Multi-system “puzzles”
What are the benefits of choosing a career in Allergy & Immunology?One very unique feature of becoming a Royal College Certified specialist in Clinical Immunology and Allergy, is that you have dual certification to treat both pediatrics and adults. You can the subspecialty program from both Internal Medicine or Pediatrics as primary specialization, but then choose to treat just adults, just children, or both when you are in your practice. The patients we treat are generally a very grateful patient population, because what we do really improves their quality of life and brings relief to what has often been long-standing suffering. There are equal employment opportunities in both community and academic practice, and currently there is a real shortage of qualified allergists, so graduates have the ability to go almost anywhere in Canada. While in a training program, there is tremendous research support for trainees via the AllerGen NCE highly qualified personnel program (www.allergen_nce.ca) and the CSACI also offers travel grants to Fellows in Training to attend our national meeting as well as the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) meeting.
What is involved in becoming a certified specialist in Allergy/Immunology?
All board certified specialists in Clinical Immunology & Allergy start out with at least 3 years of training in a primary medical speciality of Internal Medicine or Pediatrics. The Allergy and Immunology subspecialty program is a 2 year fellowship. Programs currently are in place at 8 centres across the country:
Dalhousie University in Halifax (1 to 2 trainees per year)
University of Montreal (2 trainees per year)
McGill University (4 trainees per year)
University of Toronto (4 trainees per year)
McMaster University (2 trainees per year)
University of Western Ontario (Int Med only) (1 trainee per year)
University of Manitoba (2 trainees per year)
University of British Columbia (1 -2 trainees per year)
Where can I learn more about careers in Allergy and Immunology?Here are some useful websites from various Allergy organizations, as well as contact information and Twitter accounts of highly prominent Allergists in our society and other International Allergists:
- On Twitter: @DrAnneEllis, @IgECPD, @Allergydoc4kids, @winder_gill, @lee_jasonk, @Allergykids ,@Allergy, @Aller_MD, @AllergyNet, @MatthewBowdish