Hematologists are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders. They work with patients to help them manage blood-related conditions like anemia, clotting disorders, and leukemia.
Hematologists are experts in the study of blood cells and blood-related conditions. They are also experts in oncology, which is the study of cancer. Hematologists may treat patients by performing surgery or administering chemotherapy or other drugs.
Hematologists typically work at hospitals or medical centers. Some hematologists work as specialists for athletes or those who need pre-transfusion testing for transplants. In addition to their medical duties, hematologists also teach and conduct research at universities or hospitals.
Hematologist Job Duties
Hematologists are responsible for a wide range of duties, including:
- Serve as a primary care physician for patients with hematologic disorders
- Perform routine blood tests to evaluate patients’ health status
- Diagnose and treat a variety of anemic conditions, such as iron deficiency and sickle cell anemia
- Conduct bone marrow biopsies to diagnose blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma
- Provide care to patients with conditions that require chronic attention or complex treatment plans
- Manage care plans regarding patient’s lifestyle changes, diets, exercise routines, medications, drug interactions, lab tests, and follow-up appointments
- Participate in research activities at hospitals or universities where they work
- Provide consultations with other physicians to discuss difficult cases
Hematologist Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for hematologists is $235,000. Those earning higher wages tend to work in hospitals and those who are self-employed. The highest earners make over $400,000 per year.
Job opportunities for hematologists are expected to decline over the next decade. This is due to the growing use of technology in the diagnosis and treatment of blood-related diseases.
Hematologist Job Requirements
There are a variety of requirements in order to work in this field.
Education: A medical degree is required in order to become a hematologist. Most hematologists complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program in biology, chemistry or another related field. This degree is usually followed by a four-year medical school program, where students receive an MD.
During their undergraduate and medical school programs, students learn about anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology and other topics that will be helpful when they enter the workforce. In addition to their courses, students can also gain practical experience through a rotation in a clinical setting.
Training: After the medical degree, completing a residency program is required to become a hematologist. The hospital will assign residents specific tasks that mirror the role of a hematologist. During their time in the residency program, residents will learn the finer points of the job, such as how to draw blood, and how to determine which type of patient needs a hematologist and other medical procedures related to the profession. Residents may also be assigned to work with other medical professionals to learn to determine the cause of an illness and create a treatment plan for patients.
Certifications: Hematologists must be certified in Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine. They must also hold a license to practice medicine and have completed their medical fellowship training successfully.
The following skills are required for this job:
Communication skills: Hematologists must be able to clearly communicate with patients and their families, as well as other health care professionals.
Problem-solving skills: The field of hematology often involves solving problems related to the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders. An ability to think logically is therefore very important.
Scientific knowledge: Hematologists must have a working knowledge of scientific concepts in order to understand the causes of various blood disorders and how they can be treated.
Good organization skills: The job requires excellent organizational skills because hematologists need to keep track of many details about many different patients at once.
Patience: Working with patients who are dealing with serious illnesses can be stressful at times. Patience is important when dealing with these situations.
Hematologist Work Environment
Hematology is a very specialized medical field. A hematologist sees patients in an office or laboratory setting for diagnostic purposes. It may be necessary for them to conduct tests at other locations such as blood banks or laboratories. The nature of the work is often confidential and requires long hours to keep up with all aspects of patient treatment.
Hematologists must travel occasionally and are required to spend a lot of time on their feet. Throughout the day, they may need to perform some heavy lifting. In addition, because many examinations require the use of modern equipment and various chemicals, hematologists also need to wear protective clothing, eyewear, and gloves.
Hematologist Career Advancement
Hematology specialists may be able to advance to the position of chief of hematology within their hospital. This means they are the go-to doctor for patients who need treatment of blood-related problems.
Others advance to the position of a hematologist in a clinical research lab or in a pharmaceutical company. If you wish to work at a pharmaceutical company, you’ll need to have a PhD and a few years of research experience. Most pharmaceutical companies require their hematologists to have both.
Here are three trends influencing how hematologists work. Hematologists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Technological Advances Impacting Specialized Medical Professionals
New methods for storing and analyzing genetic data mean that physicians can more easily identify genes associated with certain conditions and track how they affect patients over time.
In addition, new diagnostic techniques such as MRIs and other advanced imaging technologies can help specialists diagnose conditions more quickly and accurately than ever before.
“Superbugs” and the Impact on Medical Professionals
As a result of the overuse of antibiotics, bacteria have become resistant to certain drugs, which has led to an increase in “superbugs” that can cause serious health problems for people. In addition, these superbugs are more difficult to kill than standard strains of bacteria because they have adapted to resist conventional treatments.
In order to combat this emerging threat, medical professionals need to improve their use of preventative strategies and carefully select which drugs they prescribe for patients.
Importance of Genetics in Diagnosis
The field of hematology is growing in importance as doctors and scientists learn more about the role genetics plays in both normal blood production and a variety of blood-related disorders.
As a result, hematologists are expected to play an increasingly important role in genetic diagnoses, particularly with regard to patients who have abnormal blood counts or have experienced other complications related to their hematologic systems.
How to Become a Hematologist
1. Planning Your Career Path
A career in medicine is rewarding but can be stressful; those who enjoy helping others will likely thrive in this environment. A commitment to lifelong learning is also key; most medical fields require additional education after college, including residency programs and board certifications.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for hematologists should focus on their ability to be detail-oriented, advocate for patients, and make decisions. You should also highlight your research experience as this will demonstrate your dedication to staying up-to-date on the latest developments in the field.
For each position, list your work history with brief descriptions of responsibilities and achievements. If you have formal education or certifications that are relevant to this position, be sure to list these as well.
3. Applying for Jobs
There are lots of different paths to take when searching for a job as a hematologist. For example, many hospitals hire doctors straight out of school; there’s also an abundance of programs that allow people to become clinical fellows at different hospitals. You’ll also want to think about how you can get involved with groups related to hematology. For example, if you want to work in pediatric hematology, get involved with children’s hospitals and other organizations that cater to kids.
However, for those who already have experience in the field, it can be helpful to join groups like the American Society of Hematology (ASH) to keep up with the latest news and research. These groups are also useful because they can give you access to members who may be able to put in a good word for you.
4. Ace the Interview
To prepare for your interview, be ready to talk about the types of patients you would be treating as a hematologist. Be ready to answer questions about your educational background, your general interest in the field, and the kind of research you’re most likely to want to do. Think about how you see your career developing and be open about communicating this.
Make sure you show up to the interview at least 15 minutes early and dress professionally. You never know if someone else will be interviewing you and it is important that your potential employer sees your commitment and interest in the role right away.