When I Grow Up

Do you want to help people with food allergies when you grow up? There are several jobs that work with food allergies. Read on to learn more about them.

Allergist

An allergist is a doctor who specializes in food allergy and asthma. An allergist must go to college for 4 years, medical school for 4 years, and complete a residency (usually 3 years) and then a fellowship in allergy/immunology (usually 2-3 years). Some people do extra years of research or also get a doctorate, another degree.

Nurse

Nurses work in all areas within the healthcare field, most often in hospitals or doctor's offices. A nurse must go to college, and then take an exam to obtain a license to practice nursing. A nurse can work in many specialties. In the area of food allergy, the nurse works together with the doctor to obtain information necessary to diagnose and treat the patient's allergies. Nurses also is teach patients and families about living with their allergies.

Registered Dietitian

Registered Dietitians work with food and special diets, working with people to analyze their diets and make sure they are balanced. If it is not, a dietitian will recommend changes to balance your diet. When a person has food allergies, the challenge to have a well-balanced diet is increased. That's where the dietitian is really a key person. A dietitian must go to college for four years, serve an internship in a food service program (i.e. in a hospital), and pass a national exam. Dietitians can work alone, within a hospital, or at a doctor's office. Some dietitians specialize in children; others prefer adults, while others see both types of patients.

Research

As a doctor, nurse, or dietitian you may also decide to do research. For example you could work in a research unit of a hospital and be involved with food allergy research studies. Researchers work with experiments and data to help find a cure, treat reactions, and share what they find others by writing studies. Studies are funded by corporations that are trying to see if their products can be useful to those with food allergies or to see if their products can help prevent or cure food allergies. Studies are also funded by the federal government via the National Institutes of Health, and by private donations, as well.

Food Scientist

Yet another field that may be of interest to you is food science. A food scientist is a person who knows a lot about the different parts of foods, such as flavors, spices, and plant proteins. There are a number of different "tracks" you can take in this field, including helping companies develop new products or creating food safety programs (i.e. food allergy awareness in a company). A food scientist must complete at least an undergraduate degree in science.

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