Difference Between Rheumatologist & Hematologist

Medical specialists perform many similar duties, but concentrate on treating different parts of the body or different medical problems. That's the distinction between rheumatologists and hematologists. Read on to compare these careers further.

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Comparing Rheumatologists to Hematologists

Rheumatologists and hematologists are both medical doctors that specialize in internal medicine. They treat different systems in the body and focus on diagnosing and treating patients with different medical problems. While a person with arthritis may see a rheumatologist, a hematologist may see a patient with a blood disorder.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)** Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
Rheumatologists Medical Degree $206,983 9% (for internists, general)
Hematologists Medical Degree $190,000 9% (for internists, general)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale.com

Responsibilities of Rheumatologists vs. Hematologists

Rheumatologists and hematologists are medical doctors who see patients, review medical data, perform examinations and diagnose patients. They are qualified to send patients for medical tests, to see other specialists, or to prescribe treatments. As doctors, they are required to maintain records of their appointments and ensure that patient files are updated. They may direct nurses and other medical staff to perform specific tasks throughout the day. Their work can also involve educating patients and, in some cases, their families. They may provide information about the patient's condition and how to care for them.


As medical doctors, rheumatologists must earn a medical degree and license and then fulfill the requirements to specialize in rheumatology. That includes completing a fellowship and residency and then earning certification. Rheumatologists concentrate on musculoskeletal problems that patients are experiencing. It's common for them to work in hospitals or private practice, and they may work long hours, including evening and weekend shifts, depending on where they're employed. Physical strength can be a valuable asset, particularly since many patients they see may have mobility issues due to arthritis or other illnesses that are affecting their muscles or joints.

Job responsibilities of a rheumatologist include:

  • Reviewing medical files
  • Ordering medical tests
  • Assessing patients
  • Providing a diagnosis
  • Treating patients
  • Prescribing medication


Hematologists often work closely with oncologists, and in some cases these professionals may complete their fellowship requirements together. Hematologists are required to complete a fellowship after earning a medical degree, and they are also required to have a medical license. An internship or residency and certification may also be needed to prepare to enter this field. Hematologists may be employed in hospitals or medical clinics, or they may work in a medical office. They spend their career working with patients who may have medical issues with their blood, such as anemia, or bone marrow, such as myeloproliferative neoplasms.

Job responsibilities of a hematologist include:

  • Analyzing blood samples
  • Studying medical histories of their patients
  • Referring patients for medical tests
  • Explaining a diagnosis and treatment options
  • Initiating treatment

Related Careers

If a career as a rheumatologist sounds appealing, you may also be interested in considering becoming a cardiologist, since cardiologists specialize in treating the heart. Since the work that hematologists do is closely related to the work of oncologists, oncology may be another field that interests you if you're interested in hematology.

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