Featured Career: Pulmonologist
A! B! C!
When hearing the letters ABC, it’s not uncommon for our minds to immediately envision our playful childhood Alphabet song. But just as vintage nursery rhymes have a deeper meaning, so do the letters A B C.
As a former registered nurse working at one of the top oncology hospitals in the nation, I can personally assure you that the letters “ABC” are the foundational building blocks that you- YES YOU- need to exist! Without it, humanity would be no more. So what do these immaculate letters stand for and have we piqued your curiosity yet? If so, keep reading to find out.
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Sadly, our planet is currently going through an alarming battle with the invisible villain known as Covid-19. News outlets and medical professionals alike are constantly attempting to find answers to controlling this malicious pandemic and bringing our planet back to some type of normalcy. But what does this have to do with ABC? The correct answer is- EVERYTHING!
ABC is an acronym interpreted by those in healthcare as 1) Airway 2) Breathing 3) Circulation. As I’m sure you are in agreeance, we all need to breathe. Yet sometimes, illnesses and diseases can occur that may make it difficult to get the right amount of oxygen. Contrarily, some individuals take in too much air. Their lungs become barrel-shaped and overly stretched out, causing them to lose the ability to release the precious oxygen they take in. This results in a build-up of air in your chest that cannot be released without proper medication and treatment. Examples of these afflictions include pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, lung cancer, and/or complicated chest infections.
Whether familiar with these illnesses or not, there are some professionals who are classified as “Lung Experts” and have saved countless precious lives pre and in the midst of this virulent pandemic. Their contribution to healthcare and admiration for the concept of “breath” doesn’t just save the lives of others, it gives fulfillment to their own lives as well. These experts are called Pulmonologist. (pul·mo·nol·o·gist | \ ˌpu̇l-mə-ˈnä-lə-jəst)
Pulmonologists are medical physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions and diseases associated with the respiratory system, including the nose, pharynx, and throat. They are primarily trained to possess a deep understanding of how to identify and treat diseases and conditions related to the chest and lungs. During initial patient exams, pulmonologists typically identify physical symptoms. A stethoscope is usually used to listen to the lungs; while the physician analyzes the airways. The doctor may then decide to order blood or diagnostic tests to pinpoint a patient's medical condition. This allows them to find the best treatments so the patient may hopefully be cured OR at a minimum- be able to have a comfortable quality of life. A pulmonologist will likely handle hazardous materials. Proper precautions should always be taken to prevent the nosocomial spread of germs to patients, other staff members, and yourself.
Keeping in mind that a Pulmonologist is a type of physician, education begins with a 3-4 year bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine, biology, or a related field. Post-completion, students must pass an exam known as the Medical College Admissions Test or MCAT for short. This qualifies the student an opportunity for acceptance to enter a four-year medical program at an accredited University. But we’re not done! Upon medical school completion, a final 2 years are spent completing rotations at clinics, hospitals, and other medical facilities. During this time, students shadow doctors, gaining pivotal experience through hands-on training. With a guaranteed 8-10 years of education, it begins to make sense why the term “expert” is declared.
Generally, there is no set schedule for a pulmonologist. Their workday routinely depends on the condition of their patients, making it extremely common to work over 60 hours per week, including overnight and weekends. The possibility of “On-call” is highly probable with travel occasionally required between an office and hospital settings. Aside from the typical hospitals and clinics, pulmonologists can also find employment in emergency care centers, critical care facilities, pediatric care centers, the military, and government agencies. Some may even decide to start a private practice or join an office-based group of physicians.
Increasing worldwide pollution and constant environmental threats leave humans susceptible to allergies, toxins, and frequent lung infections. Furthermore, the perilous Covid-19 Pandemic continues to prove the indispensable need for these exceptional healthcare physicians. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of jobs for pulmonologists is expected to increase a whopping 15-20 percent by 2023, which is faster than any other occupation, aside from nursing!
It’s no secret that the path to becoming a Pulmonologist begins and ends with commitment and constant dedication. Just be sure not to let the massive $258,000 to $460,000 annual salary take your breath away.
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