• 1.

    Shah HH, et al. Career choice selection and satisfaction among US adult nephrology fellows. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2012; 7:15131520. doi: 10.2215/CJN.01620212

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2.

    Jhaveri KD, et al. Why not nephrology? A survey of US internal medicine subspecialty fellows. Am J Kidney Dis 2013; 61:540546. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2012.10.025

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    National Resident Matching Program, Results and Data: Specialties Matching Service 2021 Appointment Year. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC, 2021. https://mk0nrmp3oyqui6wqfm.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/SMS_Result_and_Data_2021.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Farouk S, et al. Design, dissemination, and assessment of NephSIM: A mobile-optimized teaching tool. J Grad Med Educ 2019; 11:708712. doi: 10.4300/JGMED-19-00443.1

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6.

    Topf JM, et al. NephMadness: Lessons from seven years on the leading edge of social media medical education. EMJ Nephrol 2019; 7:4853. https://www.emjreviews.com/nephrology/article/nephmadness-lessons-from-seven-years-on-the-leading-edge-of-social-media-medical-education/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7.

    Hilburg R, et al. Medical education during the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic: Learning from a distance. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis 2020; 27:412417. doi: 10.1053/j.ackd.2020.05.017

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8.

    The nephrology workforce: The future of kidney care in the United States. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis 2020; 27:A1A8, 277360. https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/advances-in-chronic-kidney-disease/vol/27/issue/4

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NephSIM Nephrons: A Year-Long Virtual Mentorship Program to Foster Interest in Nephrology

  • 1 Elinor C. Mannon is a medical student in the Department of Physiology, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, Augusta, GA. 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. Samira S. Farouk is Associate Nephrology Fellowship Program Director with the Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY.
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Mentorship and early educational experiences play critical roles in influencing trainees' long-term career goals, and the field of nephrology is no exception. Like any specialty, one's decision to pursue nephrology likely results from a combination of clinical experiences, nephrology education, and mentorship both during medical school and residency. A majority of nephrology fellows previously reported deciding to pursue a nephrology fellowship during residency (1), and 33% of US internal medicine subspecialty fellows who did not choose nephrology identified the lack of a clear mentor as being one of the reasons for not doing so (2). Additionally, almost one-quarter of respondents highlighted how a lack of positive nephrology educational experiences negatively impacted their decision to pursue nephrology as a career (2). Whereas these data reinforce the anecdotal importance of mentorship in specialty selection, opportunities for the creation and establishment of mentor-mentee relationships are not always readily available—particularly within nephrology. Creation of peer-peer networks and trainee-mentor relationships in nephrology may also be difficult given the relatively small number of applicants to nephrology fellowship programs. After the 2020 Nephrology Fellowship Match, 43% of training programs remained unfilled for the 2021 academic year (3). Further, nephrology educational experiences are often limited to preclinical coursework in medical school and both didactics and clinical experiences during internal medicine or pediatric residencies.

To address these needs within nephrology, a 1-year international, virtual mentoring program for trainees (NephSIM Nephrons) was launched in January 2021 (4). The goal of this program is to provide an array of virtual learning and networking experiences throughout the year for trainees of all levels who have an interest in learning more about nephrology as a specialty. Trainees in the program are divided into groups (tubules) of 7-8 and paired with 2-3 volunteer faculty mentors (Figure 1). Trainees and mentors have been paired to try to match similar interests as well as geographical locations. The NephSIM Nephrons faculty consists of 45 nephrologists with diverse geographical and career backgrounds. The 2021 cohort of 112 trainees are located in 24 countries, with 33% of the participants being medical students and 60% being internal medicine or pediatrics residents. Other Nephrons participants include graduate students, as well as several postdoctoral trainees and research assistants.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

NephSIM Nephrons program structure

Citation: Kidney News 13, 7

The 1-year virtual curriculum for trainees (Figure 2) is designed to expose trainees to diverse nephrology educational experiences earlier in their medical careers and provide opportunities to identify and form relationships with nephrologists. Several of these educational sessions highlight nephrology free, open-access medical education (FOAMed) resources such as NephSIM (5), NephMadness (6), and Arkana Live Nephropathology (7) sessions. During quarterly tubule meetings, trainees have the opportunity not only to get to know their faculty mentors but also to discuss nephrology cases and topics. Beyond case-based discussions, the diverse career paths of faculty mentors (e.g., physician-scientist, clinician educator, private practice, interventional nephrology, glomerular disease, transplant nephrology) allow trainees to learn about a variety of training opportunities in the field. The diversity of career options within nephrology (8) will be further highlighted during a career panel to be held later in the year.

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

NephSIM Nephrons 1-year virtual curriculum

Citation: Kidney News 13, 7

Feedback from current Nephrons about their experiences has highlighted how participation in this program has positively impacted their decision to pursue nephrology in their long-term career. Carmen Cajina, a medical school graduate in Nicaragua, has found that NephSIM Nephrons “has been a unique and amazing experience. Educational events and meetings with my tubule group have allowed me to enjoy learning and speaking with people passionate about nephrology.” Harsha Adnani, a graduate research fellow preparing to begin internal medicine residency at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland, also noted that, “NephSIM Nephrons is a great learning tool for an incoming generation of nephrology enthusiasts. More than anything, I have enjoyed solving clinical cases, learned a ton from the Arkana Live pathology sessions, relished the camaraderie with my tubule team, and the endless opportunities to network. This platform is a gateway to a larger, more diverse community of mentors and educators whose goal is to help and guide you, build confidence to engage in discussions, and show you how fun nephrology can be! NephSIM provides an excellent opportunity to learn from the best in the specialty, and it has certainly advanced my interest in nephrology. I'm so grateful to be a part of this vibrant community.”

It is plausible that earlier exposure to and participation in a nephrology mentoring and educational program may increase the number of individuals in the nephrology workforce pipeline. Trainee evaluations, focus groups of both faculty and trainees, and assessment of postgraduate outcomes will be essential in understanding how impactful NephSIM Nephrons may be for trainees.

References

  • 1.

    Shah HH, et al. Career choice selection and satisfaction among US adult nephrology fellows. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2012; 7:15131520. doi: 10.2215/CJN.01620212

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2.

    Jhaveri KD, et al. Why not nephrology? A survey of US internal medicine subspecialty fellows. Am J Kidney Dis 2013; 61:540546. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2012.10.025

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    National Resident Matching Program, Results and Data: Specialties Matching Service 2021 Appointment Year. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC, 2021. https://mk0nrmp3oyqui6wqfm.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/SMS_Result_and_Data_2021.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Farouk S, et al. Design, dissemination, and assessment of NephSIM: A mobile-optimized teaching tool. J Grad Med Educ 2019; 11:708712. doi: 10.4300/JGMED-19-00443.1

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6.

    Topf JM, et al. NephMadness: Lessons from seven years on the leading edge of social media medical education. EMJ Nephrol 2019; 7:4853. https://www.emjreviews.com/nephrology/article/nephmadness-lessons-from-seven-years-on-the-leading-edge-of-social-media-medical-education/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7.

    Hilburg R, et al. Medical education during the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic: Learning from a distance. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis 2020; 27:412417. doi: 10.1053/j.ackd.2020.05.017

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8.

    The nephrology workforce: The future of kidney care in the United States. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis 2020; 27:A1A8, 277360. https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/advances-in-chronic-kidney-disease/vol/27/issue/4

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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