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Subspecialty Careers: Nephrology

The Discipline

The word nephrology comes from the word nephros, the Greek word for kidney. Nephrology involves the diagnosis and management of diseases of the kidneys, the contiguous collecting system, and the associated vasculature.

The commonly encountered conditions in nephrology include disorders of fluid, electrolyte, and acid-base balance. Other problems include disorders involving the glomerulus, asymptomatic urine abnormalities, tubulointerstitial disorders, renal vascular diseases, renal failure, nephrolithiasis, tubular defects, and infections and neoplasms of the kidney, collecting system, and bladder. The nephrologist must understand how systemic diseases affect the kidneys, and recognize the potential toxicities of various therapeutic and diagnostic agents.


Important procedural skills for the nephrologist include peritoneal dialysis, percutaneous kidney biopsy, and temporary placement of vascular access for hemodialysis. In addition, the nephrologist is expert at interpreting 24-hour urine excretion of minerals and electrolytes, serological tests for evaluating glomerulopathies, acid-base studies, and studies of sodium and water balance.


Nephrology fellowship training requires two years of accredited training beyond general internal medicine residency. Of the two years, a minimum of 12 months must include clinical training in the diagnosis and management of a broad spectrum of renal diseases.


The American Board of Internal Medicine, ABIM, offers certification in nephrology.

Training Positions

For the 2011-2012 academic year, there were 143 ACGME-accredited training programs in Nephrology with 902 active positions.

Major Professional Societies

Major Publications

IM Essentials

IM Essentials brings the self-assessment questions currently in MKSAP for Students and the textbook content of Internal Medicine Essentials for Clerkship Students together into a single, updated and integrated suite of educational materials with a variety of new enhancements. Learn more.

Benefits of ACP Membership for Students: ACP's free Medical Student Membership includes benefits designed especially to meet students' needs.

Find a Residency

Search ACP's Internal Medicine Residency Database for information on all internal medicine residency programs in the U.S. and Canada. (ACP Members only)

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