Background: Interest in nephrology has been declining among internal medicine residents but the reasons behind this observation are not well characterized. Our objective was to evaluate factors influencing residents’ choice of subspecialty. Methods: This is a mixed-method QUAL-QUAN design study that used the results of our previously published qualitative analysis on residents’ perception of nephrology to create and pilot a questionnaire of 60 questions. The final questionnaire was distributed to 26 programs across the United States and a total of 1992 residents. We calculated response rates and tabulated participant characteristics and percentage of participant responses. We categorized choice of fellowship into 2 medical categories (Highly Sought After vs. Less Sought After) and fitted a logistic regression model of choosing a highly vs. less sought after fellowship. Results: Four hundred fifteen out of 1992 (21%) US residents responded to the survey. Of the 268 residents planning to pursue fellowship training, 67 (25%) selected a less sought after fellowship. Female sex was associated with significantly higher odds of selecting a less sought after fellowship (OR = 2.64, 95% CI: 1.47, 4.74). Major factors deterring residents from pursuing nephrology were perception of inadequate financial compensation, broad scope of clinical practice and complexity of patient population. We observed a decline in exposure to nephrology during the clinical years of medical school with only 35.4% of respondents rotating in nephrology versus 76.8% in residency. The quality of nephrology education was rated less positively during clinical medical school years (median of 50 on a 0–100 point scale) compared to the pre-clinical years (median 60) and residency (median 75). Conclusion: Our study attempts to explain the declining interest in nephrology. Results suggest potential targets for improvement: diversified trainee exposure, sub-specialization of nephrology, and increased involvement of nephrologists in the education of trainees.
- Nephrology fellowship
- Specialty training