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What is a Pulmonary Specialist?

By Amy Hunter
Updated: Mar 02, 2024

A pulmonary specialist is a medical doctor who has received specialized training in the treatment of people who suffer from problems of the lungs. They may treat a variety of diseases and disorders, and often work closely with the patient’s primary physician to develop a plan for treatment.

A physician wishing to become a pulmonary specialist will need a wide range of specialized training. Pulmonary medicine is considered a subset of internal medicine. To specialize in internal medicine, it is necessary to attend and graduate from medical school and complete a residency in internal medicine. The residency requires three years to complete, and the student is expected to handle much of the patient care during this time.

At the completion of this training, the doctor will receive a board certification in internal medicine. To become licensed as a pulmonary specialist the physician must study for two more years, studying the pulmonary system as well as diseases and immune problems associated with the lungs. Half of this training must be in a clinical setting.

Not all of the patients cared for by a pulmonary specialist will have lung problems. Patients suffering from heart disease, problems with their endocrine system and some types of infectious diseases will have conditions that complicate lung function. In these cases, these specialists are called on to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses.

An incredible breadth of knowledge about the lungs is not the only thing that a pulmonary specialist needs to know. The pulmonary specialist will typically work with a team of doctors, physical and respiratory therapists and others who will provide a plan of care for the patient. In addition, diseases of the lungs are often very frightening, as the patient struggles to breathe. People in this job must have strong personal skills as well as a comforting bedside manner.

Becoming a pulmonary specialist requires a tremendous commitment to education. Even after the required schooling is completed, a skilled pulmonary specialist will devote time each week to remaining current in trends and medical news. One should only pursue a certification in pulmonary specialization if he or she understands the level of commitment involved.

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Discussion Comments
By Talentryto — On Feb 09, 2014

Heavanet, I agree. I have found that sometimes specialist doctors are so busy that they develop a hurried response to their patients. Remembering to slow down and take the time to understand the concerns and fears of patients makes good doctors great.

By Heavanet — On Feb 08, 2014

I think this is a very important article about what it takes to go into this field of medicine. Not only do pulmonary physicians need to be well versed on the most current treatments for all types of diseases that affect the lungs, but they should also develop an empathetic bedside manner for their patients.

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