Aim: Global health workforce shortages are being experienced across many specialties. Australia faces a nephrology workforce shortage coupled with increased demand for nephrology services. This study examines issues impacting on the choice of nephrology as a career and identifies factors that can be modified to improve trainee recruitment. This study provides evidence to inform those seeking to address nephrology, and by extrapolation, other specialty workforce shortages.
Methods: In Australia in 2005, a mailed self-administered questionnaire was sent to all basic physician trainees eligible for the clinical component of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians' examination. Trainees were asked about the main influences on career choice; including perceived motivators and detractors surrounding a career in nephrology.
Results: Of the 531 doctors surveyed, 222 (42%) responded. Younger respondents and those with previous nephrology experience were more likely to consider nephrology. Perceptions deterring respondents from considering nephrology included inflexible work hours, an absence of positive role models, the perceived restriction of the subspecialty to a hospital-based practice and poor remuneration relative to other specialties.
Conclusion: Exposure to a nephrology term in early postgraduate years is an important factor in a decision to undertake nephrology training. During these rotations; trainees need to experience positive role modelling. Effective trainee recruitment strategies should utilize the positive influence of role models, and must consider restructuring workforce and training activities to improve work hour flexibility and remuneration. Negative perceptions, acting as barriers to the pursuit of a career in nephrology, must be addressed and any misinformation corrected.