Nephrology Career Guide: Qualifications, Job Description & Career Prospects

December 23, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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A nephrologist is a physician who is highly specialized in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases that affect or involve the kidneys. As a nephrologist, patients are often referred to you by their primary care doctor when they suspect an irregularity with the kidney function. You will then be responsible for evaluating and developing a treatment or prevention plan, which could be anything from just a special diet or medications that can slow kidney disease to a full kidney transplant.

Nephrologists also recommend dialysis as an effective treatment method for kidney disease. While this treatment does not cure kidney disease it can significantly increase the quality and length of life. Other forms of treatment might include catheters, diathermy machines, cystoscopes or radium emanation tubes.

A student assisting her mentor with taking a patients blood pressure While nephrologists evaluate the kidneys and determine the best treatment and management for kidney disorders, they do not perform any of the surgeries their patient may receive. If your patient needs a transplant, you would refer them to a surgeon and you would typically participate in the surgery after-care, including administering antibiotics or anti-rejection drugs.

Most nephrologists work very long hours and working 60 to 70 hours a week is common. In a hospital you would work rotating shifts and spend a considerable amount of time on call. You would also be expected to work nights and weekends to accommodate your patients’ schedules. While a large portion of your typical day would spent with patients and rounding, you would also spend a significant amount of time doing paperwork for your various cases.

Nephrology Training Requirements

In order to become a nephrologist you must first complete a 4-year medical school program (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery), followed by a 1 year internship. Then you do Basic Physician Training, which is a minimum of 3 years) after which you need to successfully complete the Royal Australian College of Physicians written and clinical exams and do a 2-3 year Advanced Physician Training in Nephrology. The training pathway is overseen and accredited by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

You may also additionally complete a 3-4 year post-graduate degree in a nephrology research interest. All qualified nephrologists in Australian and New Zealand enrol in ongoing professional and personal development courses conducted by through the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and other organisations such as the the Transplant Society of Australia and New Zealand and the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology.

Nephrology Salary

The median salary for a nephrologist in Australia ranges from between AUD 152,000 to AUD 205,000 a year. The average annual salary for a nephrologist employed as a public intern is about AUD 56,760 while those working as OPD consultants or renal specialists earned an average annual salary of up to AUD 210,100 based on work experience as place of work. 

Job Outlook

Job opportunities for all physicians are projected to increase in the coming years. The skills that nephrologists have make them highly in demand in hospitals all over the country.