Hematologists are physicians trained to diagnose and treat any disorder affecting or affected by the blood or blood forming organs, capable of treating common conditions like anemia or complex cancers.

Watch an Overview of Hematology

About Hematology

Hematology is a specialized field of medicine that provides diagnoses and treatments for patients suffering from the various types of blood and blood-related disorders, as well as the care for blood forming organs. Physicians who practice within this specialty are known as hematologists and have been extensively trained in the treatment of hematologic disorders such as lymphoma.

Some hematologists may work directly with patients providing face-to-face care; others may be found in laboratory settings, examining blood samples and assisting other physicians in the treatment of diseases affecting or affected by the blood. Hematologists perform a variety of diagnostic tests that can reveal information about disease and the spread of infection by identifying levels of certain cells, hormones and other contents present in the blood.

Blood disorders can affect any of the three main components of blood: red blood cells (the cells that deliver oxygen), white blood cells (the cells that fight infection) and blood platelets (those that assist the blood in clotting, a vital process that helps the body curb excessive bleeding). Hematologists are capable of diagnosing and treating diseases such as anemia and its many variants, leukemias, lymphomas, malaria, hemophilia, high blood pressure, blood clots, von Willebrand disease, myeloma and many other diseases relating to the blood.

Hematology Education & Training

Hematologists must undergo an extensive program of study before they are able to provide care to those suffering from blood-related diseases and disorders. The education of a hematologist begins with the completion of a four year undergraduate degree that is usually focused on the sciences. Following a bachelor’s degree the student must enter an accredited medical school, spending the first two years in classroom and laboratory settings and the final two in clinical settings.

After earning an MD or DO degree, the hematologist-in-training must apply to an accredited residency program in internal medicine. Internal medicine residency programs last approximately three to four years and provide physicians with the necessary diagnostic and treatment skills to care for adult diseases that can affect a wide range of organs and systems.

Following completion of the residency, the physician will usually seek board certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine before going on to a complete a fellowship. Hematologists usually complete a combined three year fellowship in hematology/oncology. Fellowships typically last three years and provide the physician with all of the skills to practice within the specialty of hematology; fellows may also perform research pertinent to the specialty. When the physician completes a fellowship, they have the option to take an examination for board-certification in hematology, and can begin practicing.