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Subspecialty Careers: Highlights about Careers in Internal Medicine: Hematology

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The Discipline

From the Greek word haima, meaning blood.

The discipline of hematology relates to the care of patients with disorders of the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic systems, including the anemias, hematological malignancies and other clonal processes, and congenital and acquired disorders of hemostasis, coagulation, and thrombosis.

Procedures

Important procedural skills include therapeutic phlebotomy, bone marrow aspiration, core bone marrow biopsy, and delivery of chemotherapeutic agents and biological products. In addition, hematologists are expert at interpreting the peripheral blood smear, bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, clotting assays, hemoglobin electrophoresis, iron studies, lymph node biopsies and lymphoid cell immunophenotyping.

Training

Hematology fellowship training requires two years of accredited training beyond general internal medicine residency. Of the two years, a minimum of 12 months must include clinical training in the diagnosis and management of a broad spectrum of medical diseases. In addition, a minimum of one half-day per week must be spent in a continuity outpatient clinic for the entire two-year curriculum. Dual certification in hematology and medical oncology requires three years of full-time combined fellowship training which must include: (a) a minimum of 18 months of full-time clinical training with patient care responsibility, (b) a minimum of 12 months in the diagnosis and management of a broad spectrum of neoplastic diseases including hematological malignancies, and (c) a minimum of six months of training in the diagnosis and management of a broad spectrum of non-neoplastic hematological disorders. During the entire three years the trainee must attend at least one outpatient clinic for a minimum of one half-day per week and have the responsibility for providing continuous care to a defined cohort of patients being managed for neoplastic and hematological disorders.

Certification

The American Board of Internal Medicine offers certification in hematology. Candidates applying for certification in hematology and oncology must complete all three years of required combined training before being admitted to an examination in either specialty. Those candidates that have completed all three years of required combined training may take the hematology and medical oncology examinations in the same year or in different years.

Training Positions

As of December 2009, there were 7 ACGME-accredited training programs with 49 active fellowship positions in hematology. 49% of the trainees were female, and 63% were U.S. graduates. During the same reporting year, there were 131 programs with 1,412 active fellowship positions in hematology and oncology. 44% of the trainees were female and 54% were U.S. graduates.

Practice

Approximately 25% of the graduates enter clinical practice in hematology in the United States and 50% enter academic medicine. Approximately 50% of the graduates from combined training programs enter clinical practice in hematology and oncology in the United States, and 42% enter academic medicine.

Professional Society

American Society of Hematology
1900 M Street, NW
Washington DC 20036
(202) 776-0544
www.hematology.org

Major Publications

American Journal of Hematology
Blood

Back to November 2010 Issue of IMpact

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