How to Become a Hematologist

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Hematology is a sub-specialty of internal medicine that focuses on studying blood, organs that form blood, and blood conditions and diseases. Hematologists are medical doctors that focus on the prevention, cause, diagnosis, and treatment of blood conditions.

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What does a hematologist do?

Hematologists provide medical care to patients with a variety of blood conditions such as anemia, blood disease, blood-clotting disorders, autoimmune disorders, sickle cell disease, hemophilia, infectious diseases, and protein deficiencies. They examine and diagnose patients using many different diagnostic tests. They also develop plans of treatment that are best for each individual patient. Hematologists perform many different treatments including blood transfusions, bone marrow transplants, prescribing medications, and chemotherapy. They also focus on the prevention of blood disorders by educating patients and providing supplements and other prevention treatments for those at risk.

What kind of training does a hematologist need?

Hematologists must complete undergraduate education, medical school, and residency training. Prospective hematologists must receive a satisfactory score on the Medical College Admission Test to be admitted into medical school. Medical school combines intensive instruction and clinical rotations on all the major medical disciplines. After medical school prospective hematologists must complete a residency training program in internal medicine. They must also gain certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine before pursuing advanced training in hematology. They then complete fellowship programs in hematology where they learn to diagnose and treat a wide variety of blood conditions. All hematologists must be licensed to practice. Licensing requirements include graduation from an approved medical school, post medical school education, and passing a written examination. Hematologists must complete continuing education to maintain their certifications and licenses and stay up to date on the current advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a hematologist?

Employment of all physicians is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1).

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for hematologists with specialty training and extensive experience. Numerous job openings will arise from the need to replace hematologists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do hematologists make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of hematologists earn annual salaries between $206,907 and $345,518. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $418,237 (2).

A career as a hematologist is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing medical care to patients with a variety of blood conditions. Hematologists must have a solid knowledge of many different conditions and diseases of the blood. They must have excellent bedside manner and the ability to make patients feel at east. Motivation, commitment, patience, and good problem solving skills are desirable characteristics. Hematologists must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills to interact with a variety of patients and other health professionals. They must be able to make quick and effective decisions during emergency situations.

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