To become an asthma specialist, you typically have to commit to many years of education and training. In most cases, preparation for this career starts by graduating from high school or earning a general educational development (GED) diploma. Then, you will usually have to complete four years of college and four years of medical school. Once you've successfully finished medical school, you will likely have to complete residency training, during which you will gain hands-on experience in general medicine as well as your specialty. Often, asthma specialists also specialize in treating people with allergies, so your residency training may prepare you for treating patients with both asthma and immunologic problems.
Ideally, you will begin preparing to become an asthma specialist in high school. High school science and math courses can provide good preparation for your studies in college. Interestingly, even composition and public-speaking courses may prove helpful, as they can prepare you for communicating with professors and eventually patients and medical colleagues. If you do not earn a high school diploma, however, you may still have a chance of gaining admission to college. Most colleges accept students who've earned equivalency diplomas as well.
While you do need a college education to become an asthma specialist, you don't have to pursue a particular major in order to gain admission to medical school. Most medical schools are willing to accept students from a variety of different majors. Still, you may benefit from earning a significant portion of your credits in a science. This may not only help to prepare you for the rigors of medical school, but may also go a long way toward demonstrating to medical school admissions staff that you are capable of performing well in the sciences.
Medical school usually lasts for about four years, but you cannot expect to be ready to become an asthma specialist immediately after graduation. Instead, you will usually have to complete a residency training program to increase your medical knowledge and gain hands-on experience with the diagnosis and treatment of patients. This training program typically lasts for about three years and includes general medicine training as well as specific training in your specialty. You may also complete post-residency training in the diagnosis of asthma, other respiratory conditions, and allergies as well.
You will also need licensing before you can practice as an asthma specialist. In most jurisdictions, you will have to apply for licensing and pass a very difficult exam. Once you do so, however, you can legally practice as an asthma doctor in your jurisdiction.