Fewer physicians entered adult nephrology fellowship training programs in the United States in the 2015-2016 academic year compared with 2013-2014, according to a new report.

As measured by first-year fellows in adult nephrology training programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, 434 physicians entered these programs in 2015-2016, a decline of 8% from the 473 physicians who entered the programs in the previous academic year, according to a report prepared for the American Society of Nephrology by the George Washington University Health Workforce Institute (GWU-HWI). Preliminary numbers indicate a slight subsequent increase in 2016-2017, the report noted. The United States is training more than 430 new adult nephrologists per year.

The GWU-HWI researchers found that the proportion of female adult nephrologists is growing slowly. Currently, only 25% of active nephrologists are female, but 36% of nephrology fellows—the future workforce—is female, according to the report.

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In a 2016 survey of nephrology fellows, the GWU-HWI researchers found “a noticeable improvement” in adult nephrology fellows’ experience in the job market compared with 2015 and 2014. In 2016, 52.3% of fellows completing an adult nephrology fellowship who had searched for a job indicated it was difficult to find a satisfactory position compared with 60.3% and 56.3% in 2015 and 2014, respectively. The expected annual incomes by practice location were $200,500 in a small city, $199,500 in a suburban area, $183,000 in the inner city, and $187,000 in another area within a major city.

As of January 2016, 10,100 patient care physicians listed nephrology as their first or second specialty, according to the American Medical Association Masterfile of all physicians in the United States. In 2014, 8000 nephrologists filed Medicare claims, according to Medicare claims databases.

In a survey of nephrologists aged 55 years and older, the researchers found that 67.3% and 69% them indicated that they were very satisfied with medicine as a career and nephrology as a specialty, respectively. Less than half (48.5%) reported being very satisfied with their current position and only 24.4% indicated that they were very satisfied with the time they were able to spend with patients.

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1. The US Adult Nephrology Workforce 2016 Developments and Trends. George Washington University Health Workforce Institute.