The future nephrology workforce: will there be one?

Document Type


Publication Date



Nephrology and Transplant, Surgery

Journal Title

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol

MeSH Headings

Attitude of Health Personnel, Career Choice, Education, Medical, Graduate, Fellowships and Scholarships, Forecasting, Foreign Medical Graduates, Humans, Internship and Residency, Mentors, Nephrology, Perception, Physicians, United States, Workforce


Interest in nephrology as a career is declining and has been on the decline for nearly one decade. From 2002 to 2009, all internal medicine subspecialties except geriatric medicine increased the number of available fellowship positions. However, only two subspecialties attracted fewer United States medical graduates (USMGs) in 2009 than in 2002: geriatric medicine and nephrology. This drop occurred at a time when demand for nephrologists is increasing and when the specialty is having a harder time benefiting from the substantial contribution of international medical graduates (IMGs). Today's USMGs possess fundamentally different career and personal goals from their teachers and mentors. Medical students report receiving minimal exposure to nephrology in clinical rotations, and they perceive that the specialty is too complex, uninteresting, and lacks professional opportunity. Meanwhile, the demographics of kidney disease in the United States, as well as recent national health policy developments, indicate a growing need for nephrologists. Efforts to improve the educational continuum in nephrology and enhance mentorship are essential to restoring interest in nephrology for USMGs, maintaining its appeal among IMGs, and developing a workforce sufficient to meet future demand for renal care.



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