American Society of Hematology

Hematology Career Planner

Every hematology trainee, whether an MD or PhD, should have a plan for career success. To help you start planning for a successful career in hematology, the ASH Trainee Council has created this career-development tool.


Residency



Mentorship & Project

  • Meet with local hematologists to learn about their careers and lifestyle.
  • Decide if hematology is your calling by the end of your first year.
  • Develop a vision and map out your future.
    • Continuously revise a plan for your clinical and scholarly life.
    • Set short- and long-term goals; revise and reevaluate these regularly.
  • Identify a mentor and project by the beginning of your second year.
    • Select a mentor(s) whose focus is on either benign or malignant hematology.
  • Identify faculty early in your residency for letters of recommendation, including:
    • a hematology faculty member,
    • someone able to write a personal letter, and
    • someone who is relatively well known.
  • Work on a hematology-related project.
    • Work on short-term, achievable projects (e.g., retrospective studies, case series, and learning how to complete an IRB).
    • Have your own project (first author, preferably).

Awards & Grants

Networking

  • Join ASH as a Resident member. Membership is free, and applications are considered on a rolling basis.
  • Attend the ASH annual meeting throughout residency.
    • Submit abstracts, if possible.
    • Attend special trainee events to make the most your ASH annual meeting experience.

Education & Training

  • Learn the fundamentals of internal medicine and/or pediatrics.
    • Rotate in hematology clinics and consult electives.
    • Read TraineE-News and Blood publications.
  • Apply for fellowship at the beginning of your third year, keeping in mind your personal and career goals. Consider the following:
    • For internal medicine, single boarding versus double boarding
    • Benign versus malignant hematology (it is okay if you have not decided on one)
    • Basic science/translational versus clinical/outcomes research
  • Complete institutional CITI GCP, HIPAA compliance, and ethical conduct of research.

Clinical Fellowship (first 12-18 months)



Mentorship & Project

  • Search for and identify mentors, recognizing that there are different types of mentors (research, career, coach).
    • Interview senior faculty who have achieved your professional or personal goals.
    • Establish expectations by discussing career direction (interest in similar projects), support (money, space, ancillary staff), and availability (frequency of meeting, revision of grant proposals and manuscripts).
    • Learn the “invisible ladders” in academic medicine: salary, compensation, promotion, publication, and grant.
  • Decide on academic career “tracks” early on. Some options to consider include:
    • Clinical investigator and trialist
    • Outcomes and epidemiologic researcher
    • Physician scientist with a laboratory
    • Master clinician and physician educator
  • Pave the road towards a successful research team.
    • Work on short-term, achievable projects that may lead to publications (e.g., retrospective studies, case series, review articles, and meta-analyses).
    • Plan on long-term projects that can be completed during research time.

Awards & Grants

Networking

  • Join ASH as an Associate member. Be sure to ask your training program about enrolling through the ASH Fundamentals for Hematology Fellows (FHF) program
    • As an ASH member, you will get access to the ASH Self-Assessment Program, Blood, and other ASH publications. If enrolled through FHF, you will also receive one complimentary ASH meeting registration.
  • Join the ASH Trainee Council to meet other fellows and senior ASH members. Applications are due in early-April.
  • Attend the ASH annual meeting.
    • Submit an abstract by the deadline in early-August.
    • Attend special trainee events to make the most of your annual meeting experience.
  • Identify collaborators, such as co-fellows, lab researchers, data analysts, and statisticians.

Education & Training

  • Learn the fundamentals of malignant and non-malignant hematology.
    • Consider a rotation in transfusion medicine/blood banking and/or transplant
    • Become a local expert in one disease or field.
  • Deliver presentations locally in medical schools and grand rounds.
    • Update your CV on a regular basis, adding any major presentations.
  • Complete institutional CITI GCP, HIPAA compliance, and ethical conduct of research.
  • Prepare in advance to apply to an MPN or MS graduate program, if appropriate for your career path. Applications will be due in December of your second year.

Research Fellowship (months 18-24)



Mentorship & Project

  • Decide on a career pathway goal early on.
    • Discuss directions and goals with your research mentor and department chair.
    • Clearly define primary and secondary projects.
    • Allocate time to each of the following: projects, grants, networking, and education.
  • Continue to develop your mentor relationships.
    • Meet with your primary mentor(s) on a weekly basis.
    • Discuss expectations for funding and start thinking about grants.
    • Be a good mentee by setting concrete goals, being timely and prepared for meetings, and being willing to accept and act on advice or criticism.
  • Work on your primary project whenever possible.
    • Continue to build your research team.
    • Turn early results into abstracts.
    • Turn abstracts into small manuscripts.
    • Turn manuscripts into grant proposals.
  • Work on smaller secondary projects that have a high likelihood of publication.
    • Consider reviews, meta-analysis, and feasibility projects.
    • Turn each project into a manuscript before starting a new project.
    • Avoid having too many secondary projects, which can become distractions.

Awards & Grants

Networking

  • Attend the ASH annual meeting.
    • Submit an abstract by the deadline in early-August.
    • Attend special trainee events to make the most of your annual meeting experience.
  • Continue to deliver presentations locally and nationally and keep a “teaching dossier.”

Education & Training

  • Become a local expert in hematology through patient care and experience.
    • Take courses and obtain certificates that complement your research direction.
    • Consider getting an MS or MPH, if appropriate for your career path.
    • Consider training in a special coagulation lab or hemophilia center.
    • Consider applying for a subspecialty fellowship training program, if appropriate (e.g., BMT, thrombosis, vascular medicine, or transfusion medicine).
  • Understand expectations that determine success for junior faculty.
    • If you are a clinical investigator, try to gain national prominence in a thematic area relevant to your department’s mission, design/run clinical trials, and publish reviews/studies.
    • If you are a physician scientist, try to gain national prominence in a thematic area relevant to your department’s mission and work towards getting an R01.
    • If you are a physician educator, try to provide a record of contribution or record of publication (you will most likely have less protected research time).

Job Application

  • Begin the job application process in September/October for a July start date.
    • Academic institutions may hire a “good addition” before formal job posting.
  • Meet with your primary mentor and fellowship program director to discuss cover letter writing and obtain appropriate contact emails.
  • Search for positions nationally and/or regionally (consider applying to all programs if geographically restricted).
    • Check ASH and other professional society websites for existing job postings.
    • Try to determine strengths/needs at each institution/clinic.
    • Can you find a niche to complement what is already present?
  • Email your CV and cover letter to the recommended contact person or division head. Follow instructions if replying to formal job posting.
    • Most programs reply in two to four weeks to express interest or say they are not hiring. If more time has passed without a reply, consider sending another email or see if your mentor/other faculty can reach out to a colleague where you applied.
  • Interviews for a July start date generally occur between November and February.
    • Keep in mind that the interview structure may differ from one institution to another (e.g. two-interview process, coupled with presentation at grand round, versus single comprehensive interview). Make sure you are prepared for the interview day structure.
  • Review all offers with your mentor and senior faculty at your home institution to help with the decision.

Early Doctoral Training (Years 1-2)



Mentorship & Project

  • Choose a dissertation mentor and a laboratory.
    • Select lab rotations to evaluate if the mentor can develop your research interest.
    • Critically evaluate your criteria and preferences for mentor selection.
    • Meet and talk to lab members and gather information on graduation timeline, funding sources, publication records, and life after graduation.
    • Choose a lab where you will be satisfied spending the next four to five years.
  • Identify a research project.
    • Figure out potential projects during lab rotations.
    • Outline a thesis project by the middle to end of your second year, and evaluate if research goals are realistically achievable within the PhD timeline.
    • Determine your interest among basic, translational, and clinical projects.

Awards & Grants

  • Apply for NIH predoctoral fellowship (NRSA-F31) or similar opportunities in your second year.
  • Apply for institutional training grants and mentoring fellowships for doctoral students.
  • Use ASH’s Grants Clearinghouse to find relevant grant opportunities.

Networking

  • Join ASH as an Associate member.
  • Attend the ASH annual meeting.
    • Submit an abstract by the deadline in early-August.
    • Attend special trainee events to make the most of your annual meeting experience.

Education & Training

  • Prepare for qualifying exams and thesis proposal.
  • Take scientific writing courses and attend grant writing workshops.
  • Attend institutional/departmental seminars and journal clubs.

Late Doctoral Training (Years 3-5)



Mentorship & Project

  • Decide on academic versus non-academic career paths early.
    • Academic route: Look for postdoc positions outside your institution, and continue to build connections.
    • Non-academic route: Identify postdocs or positions in industry, scientific writing, editing, consulting, patent law, etc.
    • Alternative career paths: Meet and talk to people outside academia who have achieved similar professional or personal goals.
  • Publish in a peer-reviewed journal.
    • Plan on submitting at least one high-impact primary author publication and one small publication by your fourth year.
    • Start early by organizing the figures and result section, fill in required gaps by continuing experiments, and then finish the introduction and discussion.
    • Work on short-term achievable projects that can lead to likely publications, even if they are smaller.
    • Consider writing one or two review articles or commentary on your research related topic with a research advisor or a collaborator.

Awards & Grants

  • Continue to apply for predoctoral fellowships available from federal or non-federal organizations.
  • Consider applying for smaller grants, institutional awards, or joint grants with collaborators.
  • Use ASH’s Grants Clearinghouse to find hematology-related grant opportunities.
  • Every application, even if it does not get funded, is a chance to learn how to turn results into grant proposals by developing a clear research plan.

Networking

  • Develop a collaborative network.
    • Identify collaborators, including co-trainees, post-docs, bioinformaticians, and statisticians.
    • Establish expectations and clarify authorship order if a collaborative project matures to the publication level.
    • Be cautious about getting involved in too many collaborative projects, and always prioritize your own thesis project.
  • Attend the ASH annual meeting.
    • Submit an abstract by the deadline in early-August.
    • Attend special trainee events, including the ASH Trainee Council reception, to meet co-fellows and senior ASH members.

Education & Training

  • Prioritize and make progress on your thesis project.
    • Clearly outline a project proposal and plan timeline for achievement of each aim.
    • Continue to build data and design experiments to ask hypothesis-driven questions.
    • Aim to turn each project into a manuscript.
    • Avoid having too many secondary projects that can become distractions.
    • Consider summarizing results regularly to visualize a bigger picture by regularly presenting at lab meetings or departmental seminars.
  • Take courses on statistics, large data analysis platforms, or learn programming language if it is applicable to the research project.
  • Update your CV constantly to maintain track of talks, posters, publications, and grants.
  • Prepare your NIH biosketch for postdoctoral position application.
  • Attend career-development workshops and talks at your local institution and at conferences.

Postdoctoral Training



Mentorship & Project

  • Identify a research area and mentor.
    • Identify a research area you would like to pursue as a long-term career after transitioning to independence (consider translational research).
    • Choose a mentor with a good track-record of supporting postdoctoral trainees.
    • Evaluate the lab environment, scientific productivity, publication record, and funding sources during your lab visit.
    • Evaluate institutional environment and resources critical for future grant applications.
    • Contact previous trainees who recently graduated from the same lab.
  • Continue to develop mentor relationships.
    • Meet with your advisor on a weekly basis.
    • Discuss expectations for funding and think about grants early.
    • Set a clear timeline for postdoc training (not more than 5 years).
    • Be a proactive mentee: set concrete goals, be timely and prepared at meetings, be willing to accept and act on advice or criticism, and be trustworthy.
  • Understand expectations that determine transition to an independent position.
    • Academic tenured track: Gain national prominence in a thematic area relevant to postdoc research, and demonstrate independence at the postdoc level by publishing in a high-profile journal and receiving funding.
    • Independent group leader in industry: Gain national prominence in an area relevant to your field of interest by publishing, applying for patents, designing therapeutic compounds, and developing your expertise.
    • Non-tenured track/teaching: Gain teaching experience to transition to an instructor position.
    • Start looking for alternative career paths early if academia does not interest you.
  • Focus on your primary research project.
    • Continue to build the research team.
    • Turn early results into abstracts.
    • Turn abstracts into small manuscripts.
    • Turn manuscripts into grant proposals.
  • Work on smaller secondary projects that have high likelihood of publication.
    • Consider reviews, meta-analysis, and feasibility projects.
    • Turn each project into a manuscript before starting a new one.
    • Avoid having too many secondary projects that can become distractions.

Awards & Grants

  • Apply for postdoctoral fellowships in your first year, including NIH F32, ACS Postdoctoral Fellowship, or NCS.
  • Apply for career-development awards, such as the ASH Scholar Award and Translational Research Training in Hematology in your second or third year.
  • Use ASH’s Grants Clearinghouse to find hematology-related grant opportunities.
  • Apply for institutional grant support even if it is a small amount of funding.
  • Apply for NIH K99/R00 (pathway to independence) in your fourth year.
  • Apply for NIH K22 or similar career transition grants if unsuccessful with K99, and eventually turn it into an R01.

Networking

  • Showcase your research by doing departmental, national, and international presentations as talks or posters.
  • Go to small meetings to develop your network and to get to know the leaders in your field.
  • Attend the ASH annual meeting.
    • Submit an abstract by the deadline in early-August.
    • Attend special trainee events to make the most of your annual meeting experience.
  • Continue to deliver presentations locally and nationally and keep a teaching dossier.

Education & Training

  • Attend grant writing workshops and career-related talks about how to succeed in academia or industry.
  • Take courses and obtain certificates that can complement your research direction.
  • Consider doing two short postdocs instead of one if your first postdoctoral experience doesn’t fit your needs.
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