A Career in Clinical Immunology and Allergy
It is a very exciting time for allergy and clinical immunology, and ASCIA is at the forefront to lead initiatives in Australia and New Zealand to improve access and standards of care for patients with allergies, immunodeficiencies and other immune system disorders.
Clinical immunology/allergy specialists are medical practitioners who are trained in adult and/or paediatric medicine to provide care for patients with a range of immune system disorders, including:
- Allergic diseases (e.g. food allergy, insect allergy, drug allergy, anaphylaxis, allergic rhinitis, eczema, asthma)
- Autoimmune diseases (e.g. vasculitis and other connective tissue diseases)
- Immunodeficiencies (e.g. primary, acquired, transplantation)
Training in clinical immunology and allergy provides a unique and fascinating career for a specialist physician who is well equipped to embrace the health care developments brought about by immunological advances leading to personalised medicine. A career as a clinical immunology/allergy specialist is likely to involve work in:
- Private practice - due to the large increase in prevalence in allergic disease there is currently a shortage of community based clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand
- Hospital based medicine - in regions where positions are available, this may be combined with work in private practice and/or research
- Research - participation in clinical research is encouraged as immunology/allergy is a strong and active research discipline in Australia and New Zealand.
- Diagnostic immunology - for trainees who also undertake joint formal training in laboratory medicine (immunopathology)
Following the completion of a medical degree, advanced training in immunology and allergy (clinical and laboratory) is supervised by a JCTC (Joint College Training Committee) for Immunology/Allergy advanced training, previously known as JSAC (Joint Specialist Advisory Committee) of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (FRACP FRCPA). This training provides the only pathway to specialist recognition of Clinical Immunology and Allergy training in Australia and New Zealand.
There are two training pathways in clinical immunology and allergy which can be undertaken by adult or paediatric physician trainees after successful completion of a medical degree, basic physician training and the FRACP clinical examination. Both training pathways can also include the option of pursuing a higher degree (e.g. PhD, MPH) during or following advanced training.
Training involves 2 core and 1 elective year in accredited positions located in Departments of clinical immunology and allergy in hospitals in Australia and New Zealand, with some opportunities for clinical trainees in private practice settings.
1. FRACP training in Clinical Immunology and Allergy
This is a three year training program in Clinical Immunology and Allergy leading to fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP). Completion of this program will enable an adult physician or paediatrician to practise as a clinical immunology/allergy specialist in a community private practice and/or hospital setting.
2. Combined FRACP and FRCPA in Clinical Immunology, Allergy and Immunopathology
This is a four year training program which includes laboratory training in diagnostic Immunopathology leading to fellowship of both the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (FRACP FRCPA). This requires fulfillment of the RCPA requirements. On completion, the adult physician or paediatrician will be able to practice as a clinical immunology/allergy specialist and immunopathologist in a community private practice, hospital setting and/or diagnostic pathology laboratory (public or private).
Further Information for basic physician trainees, medical graduates and students
ASCIA undertakes a wide range of initiatives that are prioritised to maximise benefits to more than 700 ASCIA members. ASCIA has reviewed its priorities for 2022-2023, which are grouped into three areas, with synergies and overlap between these areas:
- ASCIA Member Services
- Professional Development
Information about these priorities are on the ASCIA website: www.allergy.org.au/about-ascia/ascia-initiatives
A list of advanced training positions in immunology and allergy is available on the RACP website: www.racp.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/jct-immunology-and-allergy-accredited-sites.pdf?sfvrsn=4
Opportunities for upskilling GPs and paediatricians in allergy include:
- ASCIA Annual Conference Allergy Updates for Medical Practitioners
- ASCIA e-training courses for health professionals
- University accredited postgraduate courses* (e.g. Western Sydney University Certificate and Masters courses.
*These courses are not advanced training in allergy/immunology, which is administered by the RACP and RCPA, in consultation with ASCIA.
Webpage updated October 2023