Haematology is the study of blood and the blood forming organs. It is a subject which stands at the interface of clinical and laboratory medicine. The full blood count is the most frequently requested special examination in medicine and is done on virtually every patient admitted to a hospital and most outpatients.
At the University of Pretoria, haematology is taught as a clinical subject at the undergraduate level and as a laboratory subject to post graduates.
Undergraduates learn how to work up, diagnose and treat patients with haematological disease and how to request and interpret laboratory tests. They also learn about haematological malignancies (which make up 9% of all cancers) as well as the principles and practice of blood transfusion.
At the post graduate level, registrars (specialists in training) are taught how to diagnose haematological disease using a number of modalities (morphology, cytochemistry, immunophenotyping, cytogenetics and molecular genetics). About twenty percent of the curriculum is devoted to clinical work which involves the management of patients with haematological disease. Training takes place over a four year period after which the student is entitled to register with the HPCSA as a specialist pathologist.
Because of its association with so many disciplines, haematology can truly be called “the lifeblood of medicine”!
Prof R Pool
Head: Department of Haematology