In medicine, pulmonology (aka pneumology) is the specialty that deals with diseases of the respiratory tract and respiratory disease. It is called chest medicine and respiratory medicine in some countries and areas. Pulmonology is generally considered a branch of internal medicine, although it is closely related to intensive care medicine (aka critical care medicine) when dealing with patients requiring mechanical ventilation. Chest medicine is not a specialty in itself but is an inclusive term which pertains to the treatment of diseases of the chest and contains the fields of pulmonology, thoracic surgery, and intensive care medicine. Pulmonology is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of lung diseases, as well as secondary prevention (tuberculosis). Physicians specializing in this area are called pulmonologists. As mentioned above, pulmonology is closely related to critical care medicine when dealing with patients that require mechanical ventilation. As a result, many pulmonologists are certified to practice critical care medicine in addition to pulmonary medicine. There is fellowship programs that allow physicians to become board certified in pulmonary and critical care medicine simultaneously. Interventional pulmonology is a relatively new field within pulmonary medicine that deals with the use of procedures such as bronchoscopy to treat several pulmonary diseases. Interventional pulmonology is not its own specialty.
Pulmonology as a career:
In the United States, pulmonologists are physicians who, after receiving a medical degree (MD or DO), complete residency training in internal medicine (3 years), followed by at least 2 additional years of subspecialty fellowship training in pulmonology. After satisfactorily completing a fellowship in pulmonary medicine, he or she is permitted to take the board certification examination in pulmonary medicine. After passing this exam, he or she is now board certified. Most pulmonologists complete 3 years of combined subspecialty fellowship training in pulmonary medicine and critical care medicine.
In the United States, pediatric pulmonologists are physicians who, after receiving a medical degree (MD or DO), complete residency training in pediatrics (3 years), followed by at least 3 additional years of subspecialty fellowship training in pulmonology.
Usually, respiratory problems can be managed by a specialist in internal medicine; however, some cases require the attention of a pulmonologist. Usually, a pulmonologist will be required in advanced cases of many respiratory diseases.