I am a newly qualified nephrologist, currently working in the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra, Ghana. At KBTH, where we run a weekly glomerular diseases clinic, my experience has been rewarding but not without challenges; these include a prolonged turnaround time for kidney biopsy results and choosing reasonable alternatives when standard-of-care medications are not affordable or available.
My experience as a GlomCon fellow has been immeasurable. The opportunity to learn and interact with pacesetters in glomerular diseases has been an invaluable experience. The histopathology sessions with phenomenal nephropathologists have demystified a vital tool that I had previously approached with great uncertainty and trepidation. Interacting virtually with colleagues practicing in diverse socioeconomic and geographic environments has given me great insight into the practicability of clinical solutions and the need to tailor one's practice to suit the prevailing circumstances. The collegiality with my colleagues and approachability of the faculty have helped me learn the nuances of glomerular disease management in a fun, unassuming, and safe environment. Other key attributes that have been emphasized throughout this program are research and presentation skills, which I hope will stand me in good stead when I become the teacher for the next generation. The knowledge and teaching skills I have gained as a GlomCon fellow will go a long way toward improving the outcomes of my patients and contribute significantly to glomerular disease training in Ghana.—Edward Kwakyi, MD, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana
The art of teaching medicine has evolved continuously since its inception. In the ever-expanding virtual education space, there is a need for high-quality innovative teaching methods that are streamlined to directly benefit patient care. The diagnosis and management of glomerular disease are highly specialized. In the era of super-specialization, the global pooling of data and expertise enables learners to undertake an in-depth journey into glomerular disease diagnosis and management that is often not feasible at a single center. In a large survey of US-based trainees, nearly 40% of fellows felt that they would benefit from further instruction in the diagnosis and management of glomerular disease (1).
The GlomCon organization is an international grass roots initiative for which its philosophy is to promote collaboration among clinicians, pathologists, and researchers to help patients with glomerular disease. With its educational arm—the GlomCon virtual fellowship (est. 2020)—we have tried to incorporate the philosophy of GlomCon with the attributes of a time-worthy online learning program that includes content, expertise, and engagement. The learning experience is further enhanced by the infusion of a student-led learning component into the program. The goal of the fellowship is to advance and complement the education provided by training programs and focus it to benefit patients with glomerular disease in the community.
The GlomCon fellowship, in its inaugural year (2020–2021), admitted 52 fellows from 19 countries to be educated in the diagnosis and management of glomerular diseases by renowned experts in the area (2). The fellowship is made possible by the generosity of nearly 75 international experts who volunteer their time and effort. Due to their various geographical locations, fellows are divided into two groups based on time zones: Nephrin group (America, Europe, Africa) and Podocin group (Asia, Oceania). The groups run concurrently, based on a comprehensive curriculum. The course structure consists of two hour-long sessions that take place every 2 weeks. The sessions are a mix of active and passive learning exercises. The first hour is usually a formal clinical or pathology lecture on the specific subject for the session and involves an extensive question-and-answer portion at the end. During the second hour of the session, fellows convene in pre-formed groups (we call them “houses”) and present evidence-based solutions to clinical case scenarios, which had been sent via email a week prior, to discuss them with expert faculty. With the learning entirely virtual, fellows from around the world receive the exact same experience, with equal opportunity for learning, collaborating, and eventually becoming educators and leaders themselves. We believe our graduates will amplify the benefits of the program by focusing their efforts on improving the care of patients with glomerular diseases in our community and globally.
The GlomCon fellowship was set to begin accepting applications for its 2021-2022 class around mid-June 2021 (2). There is no cost of enrollment, and fellows are chosen through a merit-based application review.
Rope, et al. Education in nephrology fellowship: A survey-based needs assessment. J Am Soc Nephrol 2017; 28:1983–1990. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2016101061
GlomConedu. A new online initiative for nephrology fellows and early-career nephrologists. https://edu.glomcon.org/fellowship