Career OverviewA nephrologist is a specialist that works in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases of the kidneys. This may include the process of dialysis or even performing kidney transplants. The nephrologist often works in a team setting as part of a group of doctors that oversees the health and well being of patients with kidney disorders.
Some nephrologists specialize in treatment of childhood kidney disease and they are known as pediatric nephrologists. All nephrologist work not just with the patient but also with the families and caregivers to adjust the lifestyle choices, diet and other aspects of overall health that can be affected by kidney disease.
Nephrologists may also be called in for emergency procedures especially if the kidneys have been injured in an accident or other form of trauma. In these conditions the nephrologist may work closely with a hematologist to balance electrolytes in the blood, managing blood pressure and keeping all body fluids correctly regulated. Nephrologist also work directly with both harvesting and implanting kidneys in kidney transplants, connecting vascular tissues and ensuring that the transplanted kidney is functioning correctly.
A nephrologist usually gets referrals for patients directly from other doctors. Some nephrologist may work in hospital settings or for managed care organizations whereas others work in private practice. Usually a nephrologist will have an ongoing interaction with the patient and will complete many follow up visits after treatment or surgery to ensure that there are no complications or other concerns with the treatment.
Career RequirementsAfter completing the required undergraduate and graduate program that totals seven or eight years the doctor is then able to write the American Board of Internal Medicine exam. Upon successful completion of this exam the doctor then completes a two or three year fellowship in nephrology that includes both educational and practical experience on all aspects of working with patients with kidney diseases and conditions.
After completing the residency the doctor then writes the American Board of Internal Medicine nephrology exam and can be considered a nephrologist.
Job OutlookAs a highly specialized professional the nephrologist will have usually have several job offers to choose from. Most nephrologists entering the work force will initially begin working for hospitals and healthcare facilities. The demand for nephrologist will exceed the number of graduates from training programs that will leave a very positive market for new nephrologists. In addition more senior nephrologists will continually move into specializations in private practices or may simply choose to retire.
Career TrackA nephrologist with experience may choose to enter into a private practice or work with a group of private practice doctors in a private clinic setting. Some nephrologists may return to teaching at medical colleges and universities while other nephrologists will enter research positions with either government research facilities or private sector pharmaceutical companies.
CompensationThe average salary for a nephrologist in the United States is $23,000 per year. Those nephrologists that work for specialized hospitals or have extensive experience may earn over $400,000 per year.