What is hematology and what does a hematologist do?

Every 3 minutes, someone in the USA is diagnosed with blood cancer.  It is estimated that 186,400 people will receive a diagnosis of cancer of the blood in 2021.

Blood is the fluid that illuminates life and health, because it circulates through every organ and tissue. By entering the world of hematology, you will be exposed to all fields of medicine and all areas of the body. 

Choosing hematology as a specialism means that you will be uniquely split between the laboratory and the patient, as well as a source of advice for other clinicians and physicians. If this seems appealing, read on as we guide you through this field of medicine. 

What is hematology?

Hematology is more than just sticking a needle into someone’s arm! According to the American Society of Hematology, hematology is “the study of blood, blood forming tissues and organs, and blood disorders. Hematologists specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of blood disorders.”

This specialty focuses on the diagnosis and management of blood disorders, anatomy and physiology of hematopoiesis, monitoring blood cell abnormalities, routine specialized hematology tests, analysis and classification.

There are three main areas of study:

  •       Normal hematopoiesis and cellular function
  •       Non-malignant disorders
  •       Malignant disorders

Hematology specialists, often called blood specialists, will engage in the study of blood, blood disorders, blood forming tissues and organs. Students will learn to research, diagnose and treat a wide spectrum of disorders. Some of these disorders include blood cancers, bleeding disorders, lymphomas, leukemias and clotting abnormalities. Medical students in this field immerse themselves in the exploration of efficient and effective ways to diagnose and treat blood related disorders. They will work with cancers, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, blood pressure and other genetic illnesses and disorders. Alongside all this, understanding, supporting and nurturing patient care will be another focus of this specialism; hematologists are not confined to the laboratory, they are a feature on wards and in clinics, often supporting patients and their families over many years.

Hematology specialists are trained in caring for the patient from assessment to diagnosis. Hematology specialists perform and interpret the results of tests that enable patients to manage their conditions and any complications which may arise.

 

What does a hematologist do?

Hematology is diverse, with more than 60 specialties. That allows for interesting and varied career options. This specialism is of huge clinical significance because it pertains to almost the entirety of the human body.

Hematologists will often specialize in either pediatric or adult hematology. They may prefer to work within oncology or pathology. It opens doors into anesthesiology, dermatology, plastic surgery and neurology. Medical hematology offers the opportunity to engage in intense medical research. You can enter the fields of academia and research and focus on the development and application of new treatments to cure or manage conditions.

What is exciting about this scientific field is that it is ever changing and constantly growing, meaning no two days will ever be the same.

 

What are some common hematology tests?

Hematology tests, often called blood tests, are carried out to discover the presence or absence of a wide range of diseases and disorders. Tests are carried out on blood, blood proteins and blood-producing organs.

They are determining the presence of blood conditions and infections. Some of the conditions blood that tests can reveal include anemia, inflammation, and hemophilia. These tests can also evaluate the body’s reaction to chemotherapy treatments.

Hematologists will carry out routine tests alongside more complex and complicated tests and, at times, the required response time may be limited as situations can be urgent.

Blood tests can reveal how internal or external influences impact on patient health and wellbeing.

 

How to become a hematologist?

Once you have completed 4 years of medical school, you will spend 3 years in residency. Residency tracks completed before specializing in hematology or hematology/oncology will typically focus on internal medicine or pediatrics.

You will also have the option to complete a pathology residency for 3 years prior to a career in hematopathology, blood banking or transfusion. All resident programs include elements of patient care but don’t tend to offer basic research.

 

Hematology fellowships

To secure your future as a hematologist, you can embark on a 4-year fellowship. MUA offers a broad spectrum of hematology fellowships. We are constantly aiming to expand the fellowship programs we offer to our students. Hematology students can apply for an MUA Fellowship Program in a range of disciplines.

 

How much is the average hematologist salary?

As with all professions, the level of income you secure will depend on how long you have been practicing, where you live and the skill set and specialisms you bring with you. The average hematologist salary is $260,000, in the USA but this figure can vary quite significantly.

The below table shows the average salaries of medical hematologists:

 

State

Average Annual Salary

New York

$271,000

Massachusetts

$260,000

Pennsylvania

$278,000

Washington

$269,000

Connecticut

$261,000

Alaska

$227,000

Ohio

$285,000

Utah

$249,000

California

$276,000

Florida

$286,000

 

Should you become a hematologist?

Medical hematologists, or blood specialists, encounter a varied and diverse work life. They research, test, diagnose, assess and overcome challenges on a daily basis. They work in hospitals, in clinics, in wards, and in laboratories — ensuring their diagnostics impact successfully on patient care and treatment.

Choosing hematology can take you down a variety of career paths — within academia and research or clinical experience and patient care. Hematology is a cognitive medical specialty that requires you to be disciplined in a range of areas.

 

Can you think critically?

You will be responsible for diagnosing a range of complex diseases and disorders. You will need to think critically, solve problems and devise the most effective treatment plans in order to succeed in this specialty.

 

Do you communicate well with people?

This profession is more than just laboratory work. You will be face to face with patients every day and will often be communicating a diagnosis that will be life changing for the patient and their family. Knowing how to do this sensitively, clearly and in a way the patient can understand will dictate the manner in which they first take the news of their diagnosis and treatment.

 

Do you love learning?

Hematology is a broad field of clinical science. You will be constantly learning, adapting and understanding new ideas or technologies. Enjoying this constant barrage of facts and information, ideas and considerations is important. Hematology is a constantly changing specialty, and this makes it a demanding but incredibly rewarding career option.

Hematology offers you the chance to work in a field that makes significant medical advancements in both research and patient care. If you know that this is the place in the medical world you belong, we have a place for you at MUA. If you have questions about hematology, we have the answers you might be looking for. Contact us today.


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