Increase in nephrology advanced trainee numbers in Australia and associated reduction in clinical exposure over the past decade

Intern Med J. 2013 Mar;43(3):287-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2012.02839.x.


Background: Advanced training in nephrology should provide broad experience in all aspects of nephrology. In Australia, the Specialist Advisory Committee in Nephrology oversees nephrology training, and recent increases in advanced trainee numbers have led to concern about dilution of training experience. No study has examined variations in clinical exposure for nephrology trainees in Australia.

Aim: To assess the changes in nephrology advanced training in Australia with respect to trainee numbers and exposure to patients and procedures over the past 10 years.

Methods: A retrospective study was performed by obtaining all available Royal Australasian College of Physician supervisor reports from 2000 to 2010 to determine differences in clinical exposure and procedures performed by nephrology trainees.

Results: Five hundred and forty-two reports were reviewed involving 208 nephrology trainees in Australia across 53 different training sites. In 2000, 22 trainees were undertaking a core clinical year of training. Trainee numbers have steadily risen from 33 in 2004 to 84 in 2010. The greatest increases have occurred in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland (sixfold, threefold and fivefold increases respectively). Trainee exposure to dialysis patients has gradually decreased in the past decade. The average number per trainee per year in 2000 compared with 2010 were 66 versus 43 (P = 0.02) and 28 versus 16 (P = 0.01) for haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis respectively. Acute kidney injury cases per trainee showed a gradual nonsignificant reduction over time and average procedural numbers per trainee decreased significantly from 2000 to 2010 with fewer temporary dialysis catheters inserted per year (39 vs 10, P < 0.01) and fewer renal biopsies performed per year (65 vs 41, P < 0.01). The proportion of trainees working in a hospital that does not provide exposure to acute transplantation has steadily increased from 15% in 2003 to 44% in 2010.

Conclusions: There has been a dramatic and significant increase in nephrology advanced trainee numbers over the past decade at a more rapid rate than the growth in dialysis and transplant patient numbers. This study suggests that training experience has diminished over the past decade and supports a 3-year core clinical nephrology training programme in Australia.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / diagnosis
  • Acute Kidney Injury / therapy
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Humans
  • Nephrology / education*
  • Nephrology / trends*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Specialization / trends*