The American Society of Nephrology released a new analysis of the kidney health workforce that outlines a mixed picture for the specialty. Authored by researchers from the George Washington University (GWU) Health Workforce Institute, The US Adult Nephrology Workforce 2016: Developments and Trends is available online at http://www.asn-online.org/workforce.

The report is the latest in a series produced in collaboration with the GWU Health Workforce Institute research team led by Edward Salsberg, MPA.

“Our third annual report on the nephrology workforce finds a mixed picture overall, with both positive and negative signs,” said Salsberg. “For example, while the job market for new nephrologists is still challenging, there were some bright spots especially for US medical school graduates (USMGs) as job prospects improved along with incomes. And a new survey of nephrologists over 55 found that most were satisfied with their specialty, practice, and income.”

In addition to surveying nephrologists 55 and older, GWU conducted the annual Nephrology Fellows Survey and examined the potential of recently introduced ESRD Seamless Care Organization (ESCO) demonstration projects to influence nephrologist demand.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • The number of physicians entering adult nephrology decreased 8% from 2015/16, compared to 2013/14. However, preliminary numbers from 2016/17 indicate a slight subsequent increase.
  • The percentage of nephrologists who are female is growing slowly. While 25% of all active nephrologists (and only 13.5% of active nephrologists over age 60) are female, 36% of nephrology fellows are female.
  • The job market improved slightly for USMGs, although it remains challenging for international medical graduates.
  • The number of nephrology fellows in training has remained steady.
  • Nephrologists 55 and over are generally satisfied with the specialty, their job, and their income.
  • The ESCOs are an encouraging model for patients and nephrologists, and may make the specialty more fulfilling and economically rewarding. However, training programs may need to modify their curriculum to better prepare nephrologists for more comprehensive team practice in ambulatory settings.
  • The U.S. is now training more than 430 new adult nephrologists per year.
  • Modeling conducted in collaboration with the Sheps Center at the University of North Carolina project the number of adult nephrologists per 10,000 population will grow by 58% between 2016 and 2030.