Nephrology Program Director Protected Time for Program Administration in the United States

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2022 Dec;17(12):1775-1782. doi: 10.2215/CJN.09050822. Epub 2022 Oct 26.


Background and objectives: The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) required that program directors receive 10-20 h/wk of protected time for program administration (including didactic teaching). In July 2022, this was reduced for all internal medicine subspecialties on the basis of program size, with 8 h/wk required for programs with fewer than seven fellows, the majority of nephrology programs.

Design, setting, participants, & measurements: We surveyed all 151 US adult nephrology program directors (ACGME Public List of Programs 2021-2022) to determine how much protected time they receive, how much they think is necessary, and the division of their professional time. The anonymous 20-question online survey was administered from March 31 to April 30, 2022. The analysis was descriptive.

Results: Response rate was 66% (99 of 151). Geographic distribution and approved fellow positions were similar to programs nationally; 59% had fewer than seven approved positions. Median protected time was 10 h/wk (interquartile range, 5-10), with 8 h/wk (interquartile range, 5-10) for those with fewer than seven positions. Program directors estimated needing 12 h/wk (interquartile range, 10-16) to effectively administer programs, including those with fewer than seven positions, a median 5 h/wk (interquartile range, 0-7) more than received. Of program directors reporting <10 h/wk for program administration, 62% provided >20 hours of direct patient care. Thirty-nine percent had no protected time for core faculty. Fellow recruitment (68%) was the most time-consuming task, and didactic teaching (80%) was the most professionally rewarding.

Conclusions: Approximately half of the nephrology programs surveyed were not in compliance with the ACGME-stipulated 10-h/wk minimum protected time for the 2021-2022 training year. Program directors estimated a median of 12 h/wk are needed to effectively manage programs.

Keywords: didactic teaching; fellowship program; nephrology; program administration; program director; protected time.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Fellowships and Scholarships
  • Humans
  • Nephrology* / education
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States