Nav: Home

Survey suggests mentorship in medical school is vital to future of hematology

October 31, 2019

(WASHINGTON, October 31, 2019) - A survey of U.S. hematology-oncology fellows suggests medical school plays an important role in shaping their interest in pursuing careers in hematology, particularly when students are exposed to hematology and oncology as part of core clerkships in internal medicine and pediatrics. The study, funded by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and published today in Blood Advances, also indicates that having a hematologist as a mentor during medical education and training is associated with an increased likelihood of fellows specializing in hematology when they complete their hematology-oncology fellowship.

The study also found that one out of three fellows from the classes of 2018-2020 indicated they were interested in hematology-only careers, with only 4% indicating an interest in focusing on non-malignant hematology.

"These findings give us a better understanding of why trainees pursue hematology and suggests ways we can be proactive to ensure the supply of hematologists keeps up with demand, particularly in non-malignant blood diseases, such as sickle cell disease, hemophilia, and other bleeding and clotting disorders," said Alfred Lee, MD, PhD, senior author of the study and a hematologist at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

Dr. Lee leads the recruitment and retention working group at ASH, which was created to examine the workforce and spearhead the Society's efforts to ensure a strong pipeline of talent in hematology, specifically non-malignant hematology.

The manuscript published today is the first report of a three-year longitudinal study that began in 2018 in partnership with the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Of 1,899 U.S. hematology/oncology fellows surveyed (representing the classes of 2018-2020), 44.7% responded, and those responses were equally distributed across the three years of fellowship. Researchers compared the educational, mentorship, and job market experiences among fellows who planned to enter hematology-only careers (encompassing both malignant and non-malignant hematology), oncology-only careers (focused on malignant hematology and solid tumors), or both/undecided specialties.

The study found that 42% of fellows first considered a career in hematology-oncology before or during medical school, while 32% first considered these career types during residency.

Other key findings include:
  • 36% of fellows reported having a hematology-oncology rotation as part of their core internal medicine or pediatrics clerkships in medical school.


  • Fellows who co-authored papers or engaged in other research related activities with mentors in hematology were significantly more likely to pursue careers in hematology than fellows who did not have those types of mentorship experiences.


  • Fellows who planned to pursue careers focused in hematology were significantly more likely to have been encouraged to pursue a career in hematology during internal medicine residency training and to have had increased clinical exposure to hematology during fellowship.
Over the past 25 years, the fellowship training landscape has changed dramatically. While in 1995 there were 74 accredited U.S. hematology training programs and 75 hematology-oncology programs, in 2018, there were only two single-specialty hematology programs compared to 146 combined hematology-oncology programs.

"The changing landscape of hematology fellowship programs over time is a concern for ASH, as fellows may not be receiving adequate preparation and exposure to hematology patients with non-malignant diseases, which are often complex and require specific expertise to manage," said Dr. Lee. "This effort demonstrates that the Society is being proactive in ensuring the future of the field is strong. Already, ASH has committed to several initiatives to address the issues highlighted by the survey results."

Based on these initial findings, ASH will hold two summits in 2020: one focused on strategies for increasing the number of single-track hematology fellowship programs, and another focused on strengthening mentorship in the field. ASH has also expanded its ASH Ambassadors Program, which enlists faculty members at institutions to serve as formal ASH representatives to promote the Society's career development and training programs to trainees.

"By conducting this survey of hematology and oncology fellows, ASH gained important actionable insights on how to foster interest in the field, such as increasing the availability of mentorship programs and identifying strategies for increasing exposure to hematology and oncology during medical school," said Clese Erikson, M.P.Aff., Principal Investigator of the ASH workforce study, and lead research scientist at the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at George Washington University.

Earlier this year, ASH and the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at George Washington University surveyed 2,500 randomly selected licensed U.S. hematology-oncology practitioners. The survey results and analysis are forthcoming.

In addition, ASH and the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at George Washington University are in the process of collecting data for year two of the study, which includes surveying all of ASH's US resident and medical student members, and re-surveying the fellowship class of 2020 (now in its second year of fellowship) and the fellowship graduating class of 2018 (now in the workforce) to understand how career preferences may change over time.
-end-
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) is the world's largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 60 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. ASH publishes Blood , the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, and Blood Advances, an online, peer-reviewed open-access journal.

American Society of Hematology

Related Internal Medicine Articles:

Changes in internal medicine subspecialty choices of women, men
This study used enrollment data to examine changes in the internal medicine subspecialty choices of women and men from 1991 to 2016.
Do internal medicine residents feel bullied during training?
This research letter uses survey data to report on perceived bullying by internal medicine residents during training.
Annals publishes annual updates in internal medicine
Annals of Internal Medicine, the flagship journal of the American College of Physicians (ACP), has published summaries of the most important medical studies published in 2016 in the fields of general internal medicine, cardiology, hematology, endocrinology, gastroenterology and hepatology, rheumatology, and perioperative, pulmonary, and geriatric medicine.
News from Annals of Internal Medicine April 7, 2015
In the next issue of Annals of Internal Medicine are: Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig come out on top among commercial weight loss programs; Physical therapy as effective as surgery for lumber spinal stenosis; and Leading internists call for more thoughtful use of CPR.
News from Annals of Internal Medicine March 31, 2015
Articles include: USPSTF reviews evidence to update recommendations on iron supplementation and deficiency screening in pregnant women; New hep C treatments are cost-effective for some patients, yet may exceed insurers' willingness to pay.
News from Annals of Internal Medicine March 24, 2015
The US Preventive Services Task Force concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against screening for thyroid dysfunction in nonpregnant, asymptomatic adults.
News from Annals of Internal Medicine Feb. 10, 2015
Using Lung Imaging Reporting and Data System (Lung-RADS) criteria developed by the American College of Radiology to interpret low-dose CT lung screening results may reduce false positives compared to the National Lung Screening Trial, but the trade-off is reduced sensitivity, according to an article published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
News from Dec. 23, 2014, Annals of Internal Medicine
The Dec. 23, 2014, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine includes 'Blood pressure drugs likely to prevent stroke and death in patients with mild hypertension' and 'Task force reviews evidence to update blood pressure screening recommendations.'
News from Dec. 16, 2014 Annals of Internal Medicine
This issue of Annals of Internal Medicine includes: 'Earlier detection could close the race gap on colon cancer deaths'; 'Emphysema on CT an important independent risk factor for death'; and 'Patient feelings about consent for use of personal medical data: It's complicated.'
News from Annals of Internal Medicine Dec. 8, 2014
This week's issue includes: 'Breast density notification laws substantially increase costs yet save few lives' and 'Institute of Medicine 'Dying in America' report sparks discussion and debate.'
More Internal Medicine News and Internal Medicine Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab