A typical day in the life of a clinical immunologist is likely to begin with a clinic of 5-10 patients in one of the following:
- an outpatient clinic for new and established patients with immunodeficiency
- a clinic for patients with severe allergy, possibly including desensitisation immunotherapy
- a joint clinic with rheumatology colleagues for patients with systemic autoimmune disease and vasculitis
The rest of the day is usually spent interpreting and discussing interesting laboratory results with clinical colleagues, attending clinical meetings and teaching. Clinical work is predominantly outpatient based, with a frequent need to provide opinions on inpatients.
Who do immunologists work with?
Immunologists work alongside:
- specialist nurses
- medical secretaries and administrative staff
They also work closely with:
- other specialists involved in multi-system disease, eg rheumatologists
- Infectious diseases doctors
Attractions and challenges of the role
Clinical immunology suits trainees who like the challenge of caring for patients of all ages with a variety of disorders ranging from immune system failure to an over-zealous immune system. It also appeals to those who like diagnostic challenges and using cutting-edge immunomodulatory therapies as well as established therapies. Keeping up with the fast pace of advances in immunology can be challenging but there are good opportunities in teaching and research for those who are particularly attracted to the science-based aspects of the specialty.
Immunology supports a good work-life balance, since specialists are rarely required to be in hospital out of hours and flexible working patterns are well-established in the specialty.
Clinical immunology is a holistic speciality and a close link between clinical practice and research as well as basic science is essential. We're lucky to work often within multidisciplinary teams with other clinicians, clinical and biomedical scientists and academics.
The opportunity to provide a more individualised and less rushed clinical contact with our patients is a bonus.
- Dr Dziadzio, Consultant in Immunology and Allergy
- BMJ Careers case-study written by an immunologist
This page was adapted from the NHS Health Careers website.