Pulmonary disease, also known as pulmonology, is a medical subspecialty within internal medicine that focuses on correcting issues impacting the respiratory tract. Some common names for the field of pulmonology include respiratory medicine and chest medicine. Those who practice pulmonology are called pulmonologists.

Individuals who experience excessive coughing, chest pain, and breathing issues may be referred to as pulmonologist. Patients with asthma, COPD, emphysema, lung disease, or lung cancer may rely on a pulmonologist to manage their symptoms or carry out treatment plans.

Does pulmonology sound like an area of medicine you would like to explore even further? If so, continue reading below for information on postgraduate education in this area and what you can expect once you are a licensed pulmonologist.



For those interested in practicing pulmonary disease, a three-year residency in internal medicine followed by a two-year fellowship in pulmonology disease is required. In total, that is five years of postgraduate education training. Those interested in specializing in critical care medicine as well may choose to do a three-year fellowship. This route allows them to subspecialize in both critical care and pulmonology with just one additional year of education.

According to the American Council of Graduate Medical Education, 28,420 medical residents enrolled in internal medicine residency programs between 2018 and 2019. Of these, 11,051 were international medical graduates. As far as medical specialties are concerned, internal medicine is one of the most IMG friendly.


Practicing as a Pulmonary Disease Specialist

At present, roughly 12,500 pulmonologists are practicing in the U.S. The average annual salary for this population of healthcare professionals in $331,000. While this salary falls in the middle of the range of possibilities for healthcare workers, pulmonologists are among the happiest medical professionals.

According to one source, the job satisfaction expressed by these professionals could be caused by the variety of cases they see, which keeps things interesting. Many pulmonologists divide their time between the clinic and hospital setting. They take on a variety of cases. Sometime a patient may require something as simple as medication to manage their symptoms. Other times, something more complex, like a surgical procedure, is needed.


Interested in a clinical experience in pulmonology?

Explore pulmonology clinical experiences today >