Medical student attitudes toward kidney physiology and nephrology: a qualitative study.

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Interest in nephrology among trainees is waning in the USA. Early perceptions and attitudes to subject matter can be linked to the quality of pre-clinical curricula. We wanted to explore these attitudes in the setting of modern curriculum redesign. We utilized Q methodology to understand first-year medical student attitudes after an innovative kidney physiology curriculum redesign that focuses on blending multiple learning methods. First-year medical students were invited to take a Q sort survey at the conclusion of a kidney physiology course. Students prioritized statements related to their understanding of kidney physiology, learning preferences, preferred course characteristics, perceived clinical relevance of kidney physiology, and interest in nephrology as a career. Factor analysis was performed to identify different student viewpoints. At the conclusion of our modified course, all students (n = 108) were invited to take the survey and 44 (41%) Q sorts were returned. Two dominant viewpoints were defined according to interest in nephrology. The Potentials are students who understand kidney physiology, perceive kidney physiology as clinically relevant, attend class sessions, utilize videos, and are willing to shadow a nephrologist. The Uninterested are students who are less satisfied with their kidney physiology knowledge, prefer to study alone with a textbook, avoid lectures, and are not interested in learning about nephrology. In an updated renal physiology course, students that use multiple learning methods also have favorable attitudes toward learning kidney physiology. Thus, modern curriculum changes that accommodate a variety of learning styles may promote positive attitudes toward nephrology.





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roberts, JK, MA Sparks and R lehrich (2016). Medical student attitudes toward kidney physiology and nephrology: a qualitative study. Ren Fail, 38(10). pp. 1683–1693. 10.1080/0886022X.2016.1230459 Retrieved from

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John Keith Roberts

Associate Professor of Medicine

Matthew A. Sparks

Associate Professor of Medicine

I serve as the Program Director for the Nephrology Fellowship Program. My goal is to work with each fellow to ensure they develop a successful career in whatever direction they choose. I am the lead for the newly established Society for Early Education Scholars (SEEDS) in the Department of Medicine. The SEEDS Program is a year-long mentored education program designed for fellows planning careers as clinician educators or education scholars.

Nephrology Fellowship Program

My interest is in finding ways to promote medical education. My focus is on leveraging social media to enhance learning in nephrology. I serve as the associate director for the Nephrology Social Media Collective (NSMC) internship and member of the board of directors of nephrology journal club (NephJC), a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing free online medical education in nephrology. I am also co-founder and advisory board member of the first nephrology blog associated with a journal- AJKD blog, the official blog of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. Co-creator of the popular educational project NephMadness. Past deputy editor of Renal Fellow Network where I continue to remain as faculty lead. I am currently a member of the Nephrology Board of the American Board of Internal Medicine, the Scientific and Clinical Education Lifelong learning Committee Chair, Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease Council of the American Heart Association and am a fellow of the American Society of Nephrology, the American Heart Association, and the National Kidney Foundation. 

Listen to my podcast "The Nephron Segment"

@Nephro_Sparks on X


Ruediger Wilhelm Lehrich

Associate Professor of Medicine

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