Nephrology is a specialty in crisis. Fewer and fewer internal medicine residents are looking toward nephrology as a viable career.
The number of applicants continues to plummet. A number of people are looking at ways to increase interest. I’d like to point you to Mark Parker’s work with the ASN and Tejas Desai’s essay for F1000 (comments on the article).
One of the solutions that people repeatedly return to is the need for better nephrology mentors for medical students and residents. I, like most people who ultimatly pursued nephrology can point to a great mentor. During my fourth year of medical school, I rotated with Dr Shermine Dabbagh, a pediatric nephrologist at children’s hospital of michigan. She was a great teacher and a caring clinician, but she was not my primary influence.
The chief inspiration was not a person at all, it was a book. During my fourth year of medical school, years before I was ready, I read Burton Rose’s classic, Clinical Physiology of Acid-Base and Electrolyte Disorders. It is a wonderful book and it absolutely was the inspiration that launched my career.
While the ASN is working on improving mentors, I think the influence of supportive texts like Rose’s should not be ignored. There are still great nephrology texts, but unfortunately students no longer use textbooks. They use the web and are increasingly depending on Wikipedia. Unfortunately the Kidney Wikipedia is pretty run down. It doesn’t give a reader the impression that the specialty is vibrant, well kept and alive.
Wikipedia is increasingly becoming the initial access point for people to learn about nephrology and we should be better caretakers of it as it is a reflection of our specialty.
I think a great way to revitalize student impression of nephrology is to fix the kidney Wikipedia.
FIx the KIdney WIKIpedia.
Academics scoff at wikipedia, but it will be easier to fix wikipedia than it will be to get a generation of medstudents and residents to stop using it. It is time to stop fighting the Wikipedia and instead we should start refining it, fill it with compelling content that shows off nephrology as the exciting, important and a field that embraces the future of medical education.
For more information on my opinions about wikipedia check out my editorial at Wing of Zock.