The nephrology physician workforce substantially expanded during the past decade, as did the number of fellowship training positions. However, the number of U.S. medical graduates choosing nephrology careers has declined precipitously. Although workforce diversity has improved, the gains are modest. Leadership in kidney disease research and innovation is threatened by significant disincentives to the pursuit of research track careers. Meanwhile, various factors challenge reliable predictions of physician workforce demand: marked growth of the CKD and ESRD populations, shifting health care economics and access, restricted opportunities for international medical graduates, expansion of advanced practitioner utilization, and aging of the contemporary practicing physician cohort. Changing demographics and cultural shifts, including perceptions of work-life balance and quality of life, increasingly influence medical student and resident career choices. Negative student and resident attitudes toward core nephrology educational experiences and perceptions of nephrology careers are disquieting. The American Society of Nephrology has initiated a series of programs aimed at renewing interest among students and residents in nephrology careers and research training and continuing to improve the diversity of the nephrology workforce, both critical to ensuring there will be enough nephrologists to care for a growing kidney disease population.
Copyright © 2013 National Kidney Foundation, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.