Immunology is a branch of medicine that deals with disease immunity. Immunologists are research scientists or specialists who study, analyze, or treat disease processes that involve the immune system whose job is to keep the body protected.
Immunologists are specifically interested in diseases affecting the natural immunity. These mainly involve allergies, sinus inflations, pneumonia, and abscesses that repeatedly happen despite treatment. Immunologists are specialists that aim to diagnose and alleviate allergic and immunologic ailments accurately.
Earning a Ph.D. in Immunology is considered one of the highest qualifications that can be achieved by students who wish to pursue advanced skills in medical sciences and immunology and carve out a thriving career in the fields.
Through a Ph.D. in Immunology, graduates are expected to be immersed in laboratory research. Immunologists may work in laboratories for the investigation and handling of updates of developments in diseases like cancer. One alternative is to work in the laboratory research of virology, the study of viruses, and to deal with microorganisms that are considered a threat to public health. Aside from this, students learn the development of new and more effective vaccines through the entirety of their research career.
What educational requirements are needed to become an immunologist?
Becoming an immunologist requires extensive education, leading to a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree and certification from the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI). For those who wish to research immunology aside from practicing medicine, a Ph.D. in Immunology can be pursued. Students in Ph.D. programs need to complete all clinical and course requirements for medical school. They need to successfully work on their dissertation research, which is required in the graduate program.
In all branches of immunology, a solid knowledge of the areas of biology, chemistry, and mathematics is needed. It is also necessary to have a clear understanding of computers, electronics, clerical knowledge, management skills, deductive reasoning, and communication.
Scientific research immunologists need to acquire a Ph.D., while those who wish to become pediatricians or physicians need to earn an M.D. To be able to obtain a license as an immunologist in the field of research, a Ph.D. is also required or at least two to three years of training in a related accredited program. The doctorate holder must also pass the American Board of Allergy and Immunology examination.
What do immunologists do?
Immunologists specifically diagnose and treat patients suffering from immunological conditions. During initial visits, immunologists meet with the patients to discuss current symptoms and medical history before conducting physical examinations. With results on hand, a treatment plan can be developed and implemented to meet the patients’ needs. If one decides to research along with practicing immunology, the responsibility will be focused more on conducting and designing immunological experiments in a clinical or laboratory research setting.
Immunologists also provide services for patients afflicted with primary or secondary immune deficiency conditions like genetically determined antibody deficiencies or immune system disorders. They treat secondary immunological conditions like autoimmune diseases and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. They hold diagnostic tests aside from developing a feasible treatment strategy. Apart from giving their patients the medical attention and care they need, immunologists may also conduct clinical or laboratory research in the field.
What is the salary range for holders of a Ph.D. in Immunology degree?
The cost of a Ph.D. in Immunology program can vary based on various factors. The duration of the program and financial aid alternatives depend on where the university is based and may affect the cost of the degree. Is it worth it for graduates?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of May 2015, physicians specializing in a specific discipline, including immunologists, may earn a mean annual salary of $197,700. Those working in physician’s offices may earn an average of $228,830, while those teaching in universities and colleges earn approximately $99,450.
The salaries of immunologists usually range from $50,000 to more than $200,000 a year, depending on specialization, workplace, and area of residence. There are cases wherein immunologists, and those working in hospitals and private companies earn higher wages, especially those who are going to pursue medicine instead of a Ph.D. Generally, immunologists who work for the private sector or in hospitals earn at least $100,000 a year.
What are the potential career opportunities for a Ph.D. in Immunology degree holder?
Research is one of the most significant aspects of immunology. Numerous immunologists’ research and evaluation of the immune system end up as valuable information for the development of treatment processes for certain illnesses. In the field of research, immunologists work in specific laboratories that allow them to study and experiment on the interactions of cells, chemicals, and genes in within the body and determine what the immune system needs to function well.
Graduates of Ph.D. in Immunology may also pursue careers such as being a pediatric immunologist or pediatric allergist. They are responsible for checking for and treating problems along with allergies and system malfunctions. Pediatric immunologists deal with children, specifically infants and teenagers. They work in children’s hospitals, community hospitals, private offices, and university medical centers.
Physicians and pediatricians specializing in immunology required a medical degree and numerous years of training in residency and specialized immunology and allergy problems as well. Numerous immunologists may also decide to pursue teaching in colleges instead of practicing the discipline itself.
While this particular branch of immunology entails a keen interest in and engagement with research, it may require a personality most appropriate for guidance and instruction. A Ph.D. in Immunology is also necessary for an instructor to officially become a faculty member along with other specialists and experts working in the academe.
Instead of taking a specialization in immunology, one can work as a general internist. In this case, general internists are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with conditions related to the internal body system. Aside from immunological disorders, patients can be treated with gastrointestinal problems, endocrinology disorders or hematological diseases. Due to this, graduates need to accomplish a medical program and an internal medicine residency aside from passing the board certification exam of the American Board of Internal Medicine. As an option, the student may choose a different area of specialization in the field of medicine, like that of a psychiatrist.
What are the schools that offer a Ph.D. in Immunology program?
Offering a hybrid Ph.D. in Immunology program are Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Iowa. On the other hand, the schools offering Ph.D. in Immunology through the traditional, brick-and-mortar format include Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, the University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, Tufts University, and the University of Washington.
Apparently, knowledge in the field of immunization is insufficient to be a successful immunologist. It is expected that those who have graduated in this profession and have earned a Ph.D. are fully adept in other related disciplines. They are supposed to have a deeper understanding of the functioning of the body as it is connected to issues beyond immunization, medications, therapies, test materials and surgical procedures.