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Hematology is the medical field which encompasses everything to do with blood. It includes collection of blood, diagnosis of diseases of the blood and treatment of those diseases, such as anemia and leukemia. There are a vast number of career options within the hematology field including specialist doctors, or hematologists, physician's assistants, hematology nurses or phlebotomists and laboratory technicians. It is a growing medical field due to advancing scientific studies on topics such as stem cell research.
While requirements may differ from country to country, in most a person must first complete their undergraduate and then medical degree and training before beginning the process to specialize in hematology. Once fully qualified as a doctor, those wishing to go into hematology will complete a residency program usually in Internal Medicine or Pediatrics, although not limited to these fields, depending on which sub-specialty they are most interested in.
Once the residency program is completed, the doctor will then complete a fellowship in hematology, oncology, or a combination of the two, which usually takes about three years and will be done under the supervision of a mentor. The whole program from start to finish may take at least ten years of uninterrupted study, but often more, so the decision to become a hematologist should not be taken lightly. After the fellowship period, the hematologist may choose to work either in private practice or in the academic field.
In order to become a hematology nurse, or one who deals with either adults or children with blood diseases, a person must first complete the training and register as a nurse, either at college, university, or through hospital training. Once completed, experience is obtained working with oncology and hematology patients and they will undergo examinations for certification. This too may differ from country to country, but is usually overseen by a specific board or society. Nurses often choose to specialize in the care of children or adults, each field offering different rewards and challenges.
A phlebotomist is a health care professional who takes the blood from patients for analysis. Again, educational requirements and programs may differ from country to country. It is usually a relatively short course done either in the hospital setting or at college. In most countries certification is required before a person may practice as a phlebotomist. Once certified, a phlebotomist may work in the hospital setting or for a pathology lab doing home visits.