the American Society of Hematology (ASH) announced the institutions that have been selected for the ASH Hematology-Focused Fellowship Training Program (HFFTP), an innovative initiative to address the critical need to expand the hematology workforce. ASH has invested $19 million to launch 10 new hematology-focused fellowship tracks at nine academic institutions across the country.
Each institution will receive funding from ASH to develop a robust hematology training experience for up to two new fellows per year over five years to produce 50 new academic hematologists by 2030. The first cohort of 10 ASH-sponsored hematology fellows will begin in July 2023.
Hematology is a rewarding and rapidly advancing medical specialty. Classical hematology offers physicians opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research leading to life-saving discoveries and specialized patient care for adults living with sickle cell disease and bleeding and clotting disorders, among others. Millions of Americans are affected by blood disorders each year, and the need for hematologists continues to grow. Despite the need, over the past 25 years, hematology training has almost entirely intertwined with training in oncology, and the majority of fellows who choose a career in hematology ultimately focus on blood cancers. HFFTP will provide trainees who are interested in specializing in classical hematology with more fellowship options.
ASH conducted a series of workforce studies of U.S. hematology-oncology fellows and practitioners seeking additional insight into the growing shortage of hematologists, including perceptions of education, mentorship, the job market, and income potential in hematology. According to a 2019 study of 2,500 practicing hematologists, 46% reported a shortage in classical hematologists, while 31% reported a deficit in hematologists who specialize in blood cancers.
This disparity leaves critical gaps in medical care for patients with non-cancerous blood conditions like sickle cell disease and hemophilia, among many others. Trainees looking to study classical hematology also need more mentors to help them navigate the field. Of hematology-oncology fellows surveyed in 2021, only 30% of those in classical hematology reported having had mentors, despite mentorship being cited as the most influential factor in trainees' career decisions and perceptions of medical specialties.
As part of ASH's mission of fostering high-quality, equitable care, transformative research, and innovative education to improve the lives of patients with blood and bone marrow disorders, ASH is making a substantial commitment to address the shortage of hematologists through the ASH HFFTP, which will provide critical education, mentorship, and research opportunities for fellows interested in pursuing careers in hematology.
"ASH believes it's critically important to support the next generation of hematologists, This program will not only provide world-class medical training to fellows across the country but will also address growing gaps in medical care to help ensure the best care of patients with blood disorders. Through this strategic investment, ASH will expand the field of academic hematology and cultivate mentorship opportunities for fellows, We, along with the awarded institutions, remain committed to supporting hematology trainees and specialists throughout their educational and professional journeys"
- ASH President Jane N. Winter, MD, of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
The program is primarily targeting aspiring hematologists from internal medicine or combined internal medicine-pediatrics. The new tracks at the awarded institutions offer opportunities to pair comprehensive classical hematology training with career-enhancing education in transfusion medicine, sickle cell disease, and thrombosis, as well as fields like medical education, systems-based hematology, and outcomes research.