What does a hematologist do?
Those individuals who choose to work solely in the area of hematology must have or develop an intimate knowledge of cells that are found in blood, bone marrow and body fluids, how they are formed, how they mature, and the changes that occur in diseased states. In addition, they must be able to work with instrumentation that is used to count cells and validate the results derived from these instruments. Hematologists might work in special areas such as special stains, electrophoresis, flow cytometry, or coagulation (the study and identification of blood clotting disorders or hemorrhage). Those who work with special stains, flow cytometry, or electrophoresis must develop even more specialized skills that are used to identify very specific disease states or disorders.
Haematologists are clinical scientists who work in specialist departments in hospitals or blood transfusion services. Their work is concerned with investigating the number, size, structure and function of different types of blood cell. They have a central role in the diagnosis and monitoring of blood-based abnormalities such as anaemia and leukaemia, by providing scientific analysis and reports that inform decisions about medical intervention.
In addition, haematologists provide vital clinical support to surgical and medical staff through blood cross-matching services that ensure compatibility in blood transfusions. They also play an important part in assessing patient responses to treatment, via follow-up blood analysis.
Typical work activities
Haematology is the study of blood and blood-forming tissues and the disorders associated with them
The work of haematologists is largely based in laboratories that are attached to hospitals, and their work activities typically involve:
- receiving and preparing blood samples for analysis;
- analysing blood samples using computer software-assisted and manual techniques;
- reviewing initial data that is revealed about, for example, white or red blood cell abnormalities;
- taking decisions regarding further haematological analysis;
- cross-matching blood for use in transfusions;
- investigating the biochemistry of blood clotting;
- producing quantitative data in the form of reports that provide key information to medical staff about a patient's condition;
- producing written text that assists colleagues and medical staff in the interpretation of test results;
- liaising with medical staff by giving professional opinions or guidance with regard to haematological analysis results;
- selecting appropriate methods and techniques for different types of haematological analysis;
- working as part of a small team of specialist scientists in order to meet clinical objectives; working in a highly systematic and organised way to ensure maximised accuracy with regard to scientific findings