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Nephrology Careers

 When people hear the word nephrology, images of a dialysis center may come to mind. In reality, a nephrologist deals not only with handling dialysis, but also with the overall health of the kidneys. This involves diagnosing kidney disease, proposing possible treatments and even out-patient care. Though a nephrologist does not perform actual surgery, surgeons consult with nephrologists in order to provide the best options for patients suffering from kidney ailments.

Teaching Nephrology

Teachers who work in the field of nephrology provide quality education for this field. The basic job of a teacher in this area of specialization requires conducting lectures on basic nephrology, including the study of possible sources of kidney failures and reviews on past treatments of the kidney diseases. It also entails giving instructions on the equipment utilized in clinical practice and the use of the laboratories for tests. A nephrology teacher would also conduct sessions on clinical nephrology that include reviewing past cases of patients with kidney diseases and past treatments or surgeries done on the patients. It may also include caring for patients with kidney diseases and reviewing transplant and dialysis patients for clinical study purposes. The job may also require teaching and supervising medical students who may specialize in internal medicine.

Pediatric Nephrologist Career

From 1999 to 2004, some 11.5 adults acquired a form of kidney disease. This study, however, did not include children suffering from kidney problems. One of the aims of pediatric nephrology is to ensure that children with kidney diseases are included in the statistics. This will facilitate better health care for children with the disease along with their adult counterparts. Another aim of a pediatric nephrologist is to provide the best possible treatments for children suffering from kidney disease. It entails giving the needed post-treatment consultations for these children after surgery. This area of specialization promotes health in children recovering from kidney problems. Usually, pediatricians involved in this field actively research the causes of the renal problems in children; they attend conferences that address searching for a cure for the disease; and they contribute their knowledge in efforts to solve kidney issues.

Nephrology Nurse Career

Nursing careers also provide a venue for nephrology. Nephrology nurses serve in different capacities and are responsible for handling patients suffering from kidney problems. One of these could be caring for patients in hospitals or private homes. This means actively monitoring the patient's health under the supervision of a doctor. Another could be assisting doctors specializing in nephrology in reviewing patient care strategies to facilitate optimal recovery in patients. Finally, it could also involve disseminating information to the nursing community regarding kidney problems. There are two ways to approach this dissemination of information: one is through published articles in science journals or newsletters; and the other could be through facilitated lectures to other nurses, or to communities groups that may be prone to renal disease.

Registered Nurse

Employers, such as the American Heart Association and similar operations, often seek registered nephrology nurses with nephrology certification and up to three years of work experience. These nurses care for acutely ill teenage, adult and geriatric patients. They must assess patients' needs and meet the employers' goals for physical, spiritual and rehabilitative needs of the patents before discharge. Nurses also assess home care needs of patients and document procedures for treatment. A key element of the job is to provide continuity in care by providing referrals to ancillary staff, Social Services providers and pastoral care during assessment and treatment procedures. Nephrology nurses collect, label and document specimens from patients. He or she carries out physicians' directions and administers IVs. In addition to nephrology certification, nurses should posses an American Heart Association certificate. Recently graduating nursing school students are eligible for this type of job.

Per Diem Nurse

More hospitals, as of 2010, are hiring nephrology nurses on a per diem basis, which allows employment from day to day. Medical Centers want registered nurses to perform hemodialysis treatment for patients with kidney diseases. One year of practical experience, nursing school accreditation, a registered nurse state license, nephrology certification and CPR certification are qualifications for the position. Registered nurses eligible to take the nephrology certification exam within one year of employment may be eligible for the job.


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs often seek physician nephrologists for research and with the ability to obtain external funding. For example, Loma Linda University in San Bernardino County, California, offers academic appointments for nephrologists specializing in research to team with other nephrologists to study mineral and bone metabolism. Extensive clinical and research experience is necessary for the appointment. Board certification, U.S. citizenship and successful completion of a background check are requirements for the job.

Biopharmaceutical Representative

Related jobs in the nephrology field include biopharmaceutical sales representatives. Representatives develop sales and marketing medical education programs in the area of nephrology, and related fields such as oncology. Representatives must possess a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration or Life Sciences and have at least two years of work experience in the pharmaceutical or biotech industry. Pharmaceutical companies want representatives with sales experience in nephrology, hepatology, neurology and infectious diseases. The median annual wage of a sales representative as of 2008 was about $74,840, according to the BLS.

Nephrologist Job Description

Nephrology is a medical specialty that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions or diseases that affect the kidneys. It is considered a branch of internal medicine, which concerns the diagnosis and nonsurgical treatment of diseases of the internal organs. Physicians who practice nephrology are called nephrologists.

Duties of a Nephrologist

A nephrologist diagnoses any medical conditions or diseases connected in any way with kidney malfunction. Thus, this not only includes kidney disease, but ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers. The nephrologist consults with the patient to determine the appropriate course of treatment. This could involve dialysis therapy, which acts as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function. In more extreme cases, nephrologists may advocate kidney transplantation.

Specialty of a Nephrologist

Some nephrologists choose to specialize according to the type of patient. The most popular specialists in nephrology are pediatric nephrologists. They focus on kidney disease in children and work in childrens' hospitals.

Environment and Conditions

Most nephrologists work in hospitals, while others are in private practice or team with other nephrologists. It is common for them to work long, irregular hours--up to 60 per week.

Education of a Nephrologist

Like other physicians, aspiring nephrologists have to earn a four-year bachelor's degree, preferably from a pre-med program. Then they have to spend another four years in medical school. After earning the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, nephrologists must complete a residency program in their specialty, which usually takes about two to six years. The American Board of Internal Medicine, or ABIM, offers certification.

Salary and Outlook for a Nephrologist

Nephrologists earn a median annual salary of $212,000, as of July 2010, according to Physicians with nephrology specialties earn about $340,000, according to the BLS. The profession will grow by 22 percent from 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Doctors and nurses are the leaders in nephrology care. According to the American Society of Nephrology, the field of nephrology involves the study of the kidneys and the treatment of kidney diseases. Kidney diseases include diabetes, high blood pressure, gluomerulonephrities and cysts. Doctors who specialize in the treatment of these diseases are nephrologists while nurses who specialize in the field are Certified Nephrology Nurses (CNNs).


Nephrologists have salaries that partially depend upon their level of experience. According to PaySale, those just staring out with less than one of year of experience have a salary range of $120,000 to $164,900. Those with one to four years of experience have a salary range of $123,700 to $183,100 while those with five to nine years of experience report a salary range of $136,600 to $202,200 as of June 2010.

Employer Type

Various employers hire the services of nephrologists. As of June 2010, the nephrologists working in private practices or firms have salaries that generally fall between $153,400 and $297,600. Those working in colleges or universities have a salary range of $183,500 to $169,000 while those working in non-profit organizations have a salary range of $116,100 to $142,400 according to PayScale.

Nephrology Nurses

Nurses who specialize in nephrology also have salaries that vary based on their level of experience. Those with one to four years under their belts have a median salary of $71,900. Salaries for those with five to nine years of experience generally lie around $75,900. Interestingly, salaries for CNNs with 10 to 19 years of experience generally lie around $74,200. Nephrology nurses with the most experience (20-plus years) have the highest median salary of $80,200. The median annual wage of a registered nurse (without nephrology specilization) was $62,450.

Hospital Setting

CNNs may work in several hospital settings, including general hospitals or specialized centers. Those working in general hospitals have a median salary of $84,300 according to PayScale. This is some of the highest salaries of CNNs. As of June 2010, those working in doctor's offices or private practices have a median salary of $75,100. Some of the lowest paid CNNs are those working in ambulatory care or surgery centers. They have a median salary of $70,100.


Both nephrologists and nephrology nurses typically receive some type of benefits. They may receive one benefit or a combination of benefits. Nephrologists and nephrology receive malpractice or liability insurance but nephrologists receive it much more than CNNs. As of June 2010, both often receive a 401(k) plan, paid holidays or vacations and/or life insurance. Though not as commonly given, some nephrologists and CNNs also receive tuition reimbursement according to PayScale.
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