The Future of Education in Nephrology RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW

By Sam Kant and Matthew Sparks

Published with permission from ASNKidney News: Volume 13: Issue 7. Publication date: July 1, 2021

Sam Kant, MD, is a fellow with the Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Matthew A. Sparks, MD, is Associate Professor; Director, Nephrology Fellowship Program; Director, Medical Student Research, Department of Medicine; and Lead, Society for Early Education Scholars (SEEDS) Program, Department of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC.

The past year has been an arduous one. Amid the pandemic, we swiftly evolved in delivering our primary mission: patient care and education. The need for physical distancing did not culminate into any separation of trainees from education, with the majority of trainees agreeing that the educational endeavors of their programs were unaffected as a result of the pandemic (1). Local institutions and national organizations, led by prominent educators, continued to conduct conferences via innovative virtual platforms with high-quality content reaching audiences all over the globe. This edition of Kidney News is dedicated to trainees and educators as we take a step into the next decade—the decade of nephrology. Each article is either spearheaded by or incorporates the viewpoint of the fellow.

Susan Quaggin and Paul Palevsky highlight how the American Society of Nephrology and National Kidney Foundation are continuing to pursue the goal of Putting Fellows First. This also echoes the renaming of the Kidney News Fellows Corner section to the Fellows First section, thus showing the continued concerted effort of the field to prioritize trainees in nephrology. This issue of Kidney News features perspectives from a wide range of individuals from various career stages. Importantly, they each incorporate trainees into the narrative.

During the last decade, free open-access medical education (FOAMed) platforms have grown immensely and have now become an invaluable resource for trainees and practicing physicians alike (2). Several FOAMed programs are highlighted in this issue including the Nephrology Social Media Collective (NSMC) internship (Isabelle Dominique Tomacruz et al.), NephSIM Nephrons (Elinor C. Mannon et al.), and the GlomCon virtual fellowship (Edward Kwakyi et al.). As nephrology diversifies into various sub-specialty streams, we explore the current landscape of glomerular disease (David Massicotte-Azarniouch et al.), kidney transplantation (Fitsum Hailemariam et al.), critical care (Kristin Hoover et al.), ultrasound (Matthew Wysocki et al.), home dialysis (Nidhi Aggarwal et al.), and palliative care (Tripta Kaur and Holly M. Koncicki) education in nephrology. The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) nephrology sub-specialty exam continues to be essential in assessing competency in nephrology. Concerns about how and what should be tested and discussions about optimal preparation strategies, along with recent trends in pass rates, are all discussed (Nityasree Srialluri and Stephen Sozio). Finally, as a homage to Homer Smith, who famously said, “Superficially, it might be said that the function of the kidneys is to make urine; but in a more considered view one can say that the kidneys make the stuff of philosophy itself,” Sana Shaikh and Jay Seltzer discuss the resurgence in the practice of examining this philosophical product—urine.

Our specialty has been at the forefront of dismantling inequities and racism in medicine. Abinet Akilu et al. discusses measures to eliminate institutional and systemic racism in medical training in nephrology (see front page). Women in medicine continue to transform all aspects of nephrology. Anika Lucas et al. highlight the challenges faced by women in the workforce and suggest steps to overcome them.

As education in nephrology continues its expansive march in the future, each sphere of progress will extend into the cause central to all of us—the patients. The time is now to continue and double down on our efforts to prioritize education in nephrology.

The time is now to continue and double down on our efforts to prioritize education in nephrology.


1. Pivert KAet al. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nephrology fellow training and well-being in the United States: A national surveyAm J Soc Nephrol 202132:12361248doi: 10.1681/ASN.2020111636
2. Colbert GBet al. The social media revolution in nephrology educationKidney Int Rep 20183:519529doi: 10.1016/j.ekir.2018.02.003