Trends and factors affecting the US adult hematology workforce: a mixed methods study

Blood Adv. 2019 Nov 26;3(22):3550-3561. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2019000307.


The current demand for adult hematologists in the United States is projected to exceed the existing supply. However, no national study has systematically evaluated factors affecting the adult hematology workforce. In collaboration with the American Society of Hematology (ASH), we performed a mixed methods study consisting of surveys from the annual ASH In-Service Exam for adult hematology/oncology fellows from 2010 to 2016 (8789 participants); interviews with graduating or recently graduated adult hematology/oncology fellows in a single training program (8 participants); and 3 separate focus groups for hematology/oncology fellowship program directors (12 participants), fellows (12 participants), and clinicians (10 participants) at the 2016 ASH annual meeting. In surveys, the majority of fellows favored careers combining hematology and oncology, with more fellows identifying oncology, rather than hematology, as their primary focus. In interviews with advanced-year fellows, mentorship emerged as the single most important career determinant, with mentorship opportunities arising serendipitously, and oncology faculty perceived as having greater availability for mentorship than hematology faculty. In focus group discussions, hematology, particularly benign hematology, was viewed as having poorer income potential, research funding, job availability, and job security than oncology. Focus group participants invariably agreed that the demand for clinical care in hematology, particularly benign hematology, exceeded the current workforce supply. Single-subspecialty fellowship training in hematology and the creation of new clinical care models were offered as potential solutions to these workforce problems. As a next step, ASH is conducting a national, longitudinal study of the adult hematology workforce to improve recruitment and retention in the field.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Career Choice
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Fellowships and Scholarships
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Workforce / trends*
  • Hematology* / education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / education
  • United States / epidemiology