Recruiting The Next Generation of Nephrologists

How can nephrology identify, attract and retain outstanding junior investigators?


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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


  1. Status Changed from Active to Active


  1. Comment
    Donald Kohan
    ( Moderator )

    The ASN has put a very high priority on increasing interest in nephrology as a career choice. The NIDDK should work closely with ASN to promote ways to attract talented trainees into nephrology research, including further development of fiscal incentives, educational opportunities, and re-examination of whether the focus should primarily be on USMGs or also include visa holders.

  2. Comment
    Frederick Kaskel

    This must be a mission that all embrace; special programs aimed at high school or even earlier, promising students need to be increased. Medical undergraduates need to be exposed early to the excitement of nephrology and an investigative career and the concept of a "nephrology navigator" to walk them through the opportunities for entry into nephrology. The programs that the ASN has for sponsoring students and residents is excellent and should be enhanced possibly at a regional level in addition to the ASN meeting. Students engaged in research can then have an opportunity to present their findings in an informal constructive format.

  3. Comment
    Heddwen Brooks

    Training grant mechanisms for PhD students and post-doctoral fellows would be one way for NIDDK to invest in the next generation of basic scientists. Graduate programs already have the mechanisms in place to mentor both students and post-docs and the return on the investment is clearer.

  4. Comment
    Kenar Jhaveri

    The roots of recruiting have to start at the medical school level. We as nephrologists have to sell our field to the medical students and make it more attractive for them to consider it as a career choice. More mentoring at the medical school level is what is needed.

  5. Comment
    Janice Cobb

    "Professional students", particularly those who erroneously believe that they must be content to merely follow medicine as "fans", pursing their avocation from the metaphorical wings, through avid readings in medical texts and journals, must be encouraged to follow their respective dreams of nephrological research!

    Many such persons, whose original career paths reflect not their own desires, but those of their respective families, mourn that age will, of necessity, preclude admittance into graduate studies and medical school.

  6. Comment
    Manu Varma

    I am a first year medical student with an interest in nephrology and have found far fewer resources to explore nephrology as a career compared to other specialties.

    To my knowledge, the NIDDK offers the usual NIH student opportunities, though there are far more oncology-related positions and less competition in institutes such as NIDA, NIAAA, NIA, etc. A quick search of the RePORT database showed around eight extramural research training opportunities for medical students, most (all?) limited to students at the school sponsoring the grant.

    The ASN has one research grant program for medical students, requiring a minimum ten-week full-time commitment (which is longer than my summer break) and an application in December of the prior year (which has passed). There are NO provisions for:

    medical student membership in the ASN,

    journal subscriptions free or subsidized,

    attendance at the annual meeting,

    travel awards,

    abstract/research awards,

    career advice,



    From the NKF, ISN, and ASPN, I have found no programs for medical students at all.

    However, the following professional societies have provisions for medical students in any year to become members (for free or a nominal membership rate), with some or all of the opportunities listed above:

    --American Academy of Pediatrics

    --American College of Surgeons

    --American Society of Anesthesiologists

    --American Academy of Neurology

    --American Heart Association

    --Society for Vascular Surgery

    --Society of Critical Care Medicine

    --American Society of Transplantation (caveat: their trainee membership is limited to seven years, and I could be in training for twice that long!)

    I strongly support this idea, particularly Dr. Kaskel's and Dr. Jhaveri's comments. It seems like it needs much more work.

  7. Comment
    Bruce Molitoris
    ( Moderator )

    To Manu,

    You have identified several weaknesses in the approach to attracting MS and Residents into Nephrology. The ASN has assembled a Task Force on this issue and the findings of their research have been submitted for publication. A workforce Committee is being assembled to prioritize and implement the strategies proposed. There were increased travel awards for MS to ASN Renal Week in 2010 and a further increase is expected in 2011. New and more grants are being planned at both the ASN and NIDDK to encourage college students thru residents to do research in Nephrology. I will take up your point regarding MS membership in the ASN with the ASN Council later this month. Is there anything in particular you are looking for in this regard?

  8. Comment
    Bruce Carter

    Does this ASN "Task Force" also include medical students?

    Manu's astute observations are spot on, and he is the sort of person ASN should have been listening to all along.

  9. Comment
    Kenar Jhaveri

    Manu's thoughts are excellent. This is what I was referring to. When I have asked medical students around the question about nephrology, its a similar answer I get like Manu's. What we need to do is as a community-- be enthusiatic and get ASN perhaps to have programs set up in medical schools to share some exciting times in Nephrology. I think the view of medical students of nephrology might be skewed. Just rotating on the consult service gives them only one side of nephrology. Having them do an outpatient rotation/dialysis component/transplant/ etc can perhaps spark more interests. Its similar to Heme/onc service inpatients( the patients are always sicker in the hospital). Restructuring the rotations, showing them that how diverse nephrology is( lot of them don't know), perhaps is one of the ways this can be achieved. Other strategies might be as suggested earlier at the National level at conferences. Using social media and the internet should be used to our advantage and promote our field as many medical students are on line these days.

  10. Comment
    Manu Varma

    Thank you for all the comments.  It's great to see so much interest in this topic.

    To answer Dr. Molitoris's question, I would basically be looking to gain the benefits listed above.  Discounted or free subscriptions to JASN or CJASN would be nice, as my school's library has neither.  The travel grants to Renal Week 2010 were limited to fourth year medical students or MSTP students, so extending eligibility for this program would help.  Of course, if there was an opportunity to join a committee or task force to share the medical student perspective, that would be a great experience as well.  However, I have been able to gain many experiences in nephrology outside the ASN, such as a coauthored publication in next month's AJKD, membership on the board of the Nephcure Foundation, and contact with several nephrologists who have provided great advice and mentorship.  

    For medical students in general, I can think of two areas where outreach would have a great benefit.  

    First, awareness of nephrology. The goal shouldn't be to lure future orthopedic surgeons or psychiatrists into nephrology.  But if a medical student enters with the aptitudes and interests that would make a great nephrology investigator, yet hears more about neurology or oncology or infectious disease, that person may commit to another field long before NIDDK F or K series grants become relevant.  

    Second, accessibility of nephrology.  I find it hard to believe that renal physiology is inherently more difficult than neuroanatomy or electrocardiography.  But there seem to be more resources for students to master those topics, from books to websites to enthusiastic teachers.  Medical students don't tend to shy away from challenges, but the dedication that a field has to teaching can make the difference between the challenge being stimulating or painful.  Of course, it can have the same impact on developing researchers for the next generation.

  11. Comment
    Bruce Carter

    Extending Janice's comments, - How about simply because no other disease is simultaneously so widespread, yet so close to major new understandings which will finally enable more effective treatment. An opportunity to benefit millions within your own lifetime.

    This should motivate both new researchers and potential funders. But giving the impression that there is no light at the end of the tunnel will motivate neither, and both resources and talent will continue to gravitate elsewhere.

    From animal results, CKD is arguably closer to a cure (or near-cure) than either HIV or most cancer, yet look where all the money and effort has been going.

  12. Comment
    Bruce Carter

    The high ranking of this topic illustrates its tremendous importance as a "policy" or "marketing the profession" issue--but has it also strayed from the stated KRND purpose of: "identifying important research questions in kidney biology and disease?"

  13. Comment
    Tracy Rankin
    ( Moderator )

    Bruce--the issue of training is a cross-cutting one and one that will affect all of KUH's research areas. So, yes, I agree this topic is not a "research" question per se, it is quite important to address in terms of assuring a workforce for address the scientific research questions posed here in the Dialogue.

  14. Comment
    Mary Leonard
    ( Moderator )

    On behalf of American Society of Pediatric Nephrology (ASPN) Council and the Workforce Committee, we appreciate Manu's comments regarding the paucity of opportunities for medical students. The ASPN has a longstanding workforce committee. This year the committee is focusing on efforts to increase the exposure of medical students and residents to pediatric nephrology. Specifically, we have created a medical student "tool kit" for our membership that includes a variety of specific actions (e.g. offer a pediatric nephrology elective for 4th year students; invite students to attend kidney camp; invite students to attend our national meeting, etc.). We have travel awards for medical students to attend our national meeting in the spring. We do have a section on our website about pediatric nephrology as a career and how to apply for a fellowship in pediatric nephrology:

    This section is geared to pediatric residents, but the information should be helpful to medical students as well. In our tool kit, we encourage pediatric nephrologists to be readily available to medical students seeking guidance about a career in pediatric nephrology. We believe that local pediatric nephrologists will generally be your best resource for career advice, but we agree with your suggestion to have more web-based information and the ability to receive direct guidance/mentorship through our website.

    Unfortunately, as you point out, there is not any pediatric nephrology specific research funding for medical students. However, there are pediatric research fellowships that could be utilized by a student working with a pediatric nephrologist: Moreover, most of the nephrology opportunities are available to students who wish to engage in pediatric nephrology research. We agree that there should be more.

  15. Comment
    Kevin McBryde

    I admit I am a bit new at this, but I joined NIDDK as the Program Director in the Office of Minority Health Research Coordination. My office has several funding mechanisms to attract underrepresented individuals to NIDDK research and clinical areas, including nephrology. We offer Supplemental Funding awards to parent NIDDK grants to provide career development and training plans for underrepresented candidates (high school to early investigators; supplemental T32 funding to support existing NIDDK T32s to add an additional spot for an underrepresented candidate; summer research opportunities in the labs of NIDDK investigators for high school and undergraduate students; and R03 grants ("Small Grants for Clinical Scientists to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research). NIDDK also supports the Medical Student Research Training ( to provide 12 months of research exposure for medical students (typically between years 2 and 3) with stipend. NIDDK also participates in the F30 (MD/PhD) and the F31 (PhD, through my Office) pre-doctoral National Research Service Awards, and these do not have payback obligations. Finally, both NIDDK and my Office support separate R25 Education Program Grants for institutions to develop educations programs to recruit and retain individuals for clinical, translational or basic-science research careers in the NIDDK domains.

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