Dr Jennifer Easterbrook, Clinical Research Fellow
Brief ‘definition’ of specialty

Haematology is a unique specialty incorporating both clinical and laboratory practice.

Brief run-down of training programme content and duration

It is a five-year full-time training programme which includes instruction in the following areas: laboratory practice, general haematology, haemostasis and thrombosis, haemato-oncology, transplantation, blood transfusion and paediatric haematology. This generally takes place in six-month rotations in tertiary referral centres, district general hospitals and paediatric centres.

Exam Requirements

The Fellowship Examination of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath) is required. The first part must be passed by the end of the third year of training (ST5) and the second part prior to completion of training.

Other Requirements

Full MRCP is an entry requirement for the training programme. Training is competency-based and, as with all specialties, uses continuous work place-based assessments (WPBA) with an Eportfolio and online curriculum. Competency in performing bone marrow aspirate/trephines and administering intrathecal chemotherapy is required.

Opportunities/expectations for out of programme research

Haematology is a particularly attractive specialty if you are interested in an academic career with excellent opportunities for research during your training. However, it is not a requirement.

A day in the life of a haematology Registrar

The working day is very varied and really depends on the particular attachment. However, it generally includes outpatient and inpatient work, procedures, blood film and bone marrow reporting in the laboratory and liaison work with general practitioners and other hospital specialties.

Pros and cons of working in haematology


  • It is a fast-moving specialty with rapid advances in diagnostics and therapeutics. This is both exciting and challenging due to the need to keep up-to-date with the latest developments
  • There is a lot of information to learn and exams to be passed
  • Contrary to popular belief, it is a busy and demanding specialty
  • In certain sub-specialties, the haematologist gets to know their patients very well, often over long periods of time
  • Many Consultant haematologists choose to work in a sub-specialty such as haemato-oncology, specialist coagulation, blood transfusion and there is generally something that suits everyone


  • On the negative side it can be emotionally demanding, particularly in haemato-oncology

In summary, it is hard work but always interesting and undoubtedly rewarding.

How this specialty differs from others and what made me choose it

My main reason for choosing haematology was the unique combination of laboratory and clinical medicine. As a result the haematologist is involved with every aspect of patient care from the initial assessment through to diagnosis in the laboratory and subsequent management. I am also keen to pursue an academic career and the specialty is naturally suited to periods of research.

Unlike many medical specialties, it does not involve any further general medical training but rather is a combination of haematology and pathology. Nevertheless, it still involves looking after very unwell patients and liaising with many other specialties.

Tips for success in applying for this specialty

Requirements for entering training are completion of core training (Internal Medicine Training or Acute Care Common Stem [ACCS]) and full MRCP. Otherwise, showing enthusiasm for the specialty is the most important thing you can do. It is not always possible to have done a job in haematology before applying, so if you haven’t, it is well worth trying to arrange a ‘taster’ week and perhaps trying to do an audit with a haematology theme to show an interest and commitment to the specialty.

For more information