Mervat Nassef, MD
Q: Why did you become an allergist?
As a medical student, I was fascinated by the immune system. So, I took electives in allergy and immunology during medical school and residency. The mechanisms of immune cell development, signaling and recognition of self and foreign antigens amazed me.
Beyond my fascination with the science of allergy and immunology, the clinical practice of this specialty was very appealing to me for several reasons. First, allergy and immunology encompasses a wide spectrum of conditions that affect every organ in the body. As a result, it never gets boring.
In addition, the most common chronic conditions allergist/immunologists treat, allergic rhinitis and asthma, have a tremendous impact on patients’ quality of life, even if their symptoms are not life-threatening. What is gratifying for the practicing allergist/immunologist is that the treatments we have for these conditions are very effective, giving us the joy of helping patients feel better and improving the quality of their lives.
Another aspect of allergy and immunology that I love, which is fairly unique among medical specialties, is the fact that we can see patients of all ages. This allows us to continue to follow kids as they become adults. Also, because allergies are hereditary, I often see several members of the same family, sometimes from three different generations. And now, some of the children I treated when I first started practicing have grown up and bring me their own kids to treat. Because of these long-term relationships, patients become like family.