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Penn's Nephrology Fellowship program offers a comprehensive and diverse program that provides a firm foundation for future nephrologists. Learn more about our fellowship program by accessing these frequently asked questions.

What are the tracks for nephrology fellows at Penn?

There are currently two fellowship tracks:

  • Two-year clinical track
  • Three-year research track

The first year of fellowship provides extensive clinical experience and is equivalent for fellows in both tracks. For clinical-track fellows, the second year of fellowship will include inpatient service time along with required ambulatory clinics and other electives. For research-track fellows, the second and third years of fellowship are primarily devoted to research training in basic science, translational science, or clinical epidemiology with the ultimate goal of obtaining NIH funding as early career investigators.

Penn offers Master of Science programs that can provide additional didactic and experiential training for fellows to gain the knowledge and independence needed to obtain competitive extramural funding. These programs include the highly sought after:

Upon completion of training, research-track fellows typically apply for their own NIH (K08, K23) funding.

How many positions are available in each track?

The number of positions in each track varies from year to year, based upon the quality of the applicants for each track and the number of positions available on the training grants. Fellows are asked to declare their interest in a particular track prior to their interview.

Where do fellows go when they finish fellowship?

The ultimate goal of the University of Pennsylvania fellowship program is to prepare nephrologists for a career in clinical nephrology or for an academic research career.

First Year of Inpatient Service

At which hospitals do the fellows rotate and how much time do fellows spend at each hospital?

There are three hospitals at which nephrology fellows rotate:

  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP)
  • Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC)
  • Philadelphia VA Medical Center (PVAMC)

HUP is a large university hospital and quaternary referral center, with a wide array of highly complex patients. PPMC and the PVAMC provide more community-based care and thus a mix of routine and complex patients.

At all hospitals, the care of all renal patients is overseen by the service attendings and fellows. There are no private renal patients. At HUP, there are three general Nephrology consult services and a transplant service. The consult services each see a mix of ICU and non-ICU patients throughout the hospital. The renal services at PPMC and PVAMC are both consult services with one fellow each. PPMC has a non-teaching renal service with a nurse practitioner and advanced practice provider who see chronic hemodialysis patients at HUP and PPMC.

What is the call schedule? Is call in-house or from home?

Fellows take call from home; there is no in-house call. Fellows are, on average, on call one night per week while on rotation at HUP, two nights per week while on rotation at PPMC and the PVAMC (which tend to have less frequent calls). Both first and second year fellows contribute to the weeknight call pool.

Are there any free holidays as a first year fellow?

The UPHS (University of Pennsylvania Health System) recognizes several holidays including Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day. On these days, the outpatient clinic typically closes and fellows typically modify the coverage schedule so each may enjoy several holidays.

Do first year fellows get weekends off?

First year fellows work 1-2 weekends per month and are off 2-3 weekends per month while on rotation at HUP. They work Saturdays but not Sundays while on rotation at the PVAMC and at PPMC.

How many months are fellows on service each year?

First year fellows are on service for 10 months. Fellows have two 2-3 weeks of outpatient elective blocks and four weeks of vacation. For fellows in the second year, inpatient service will vary depending on whether a fellow is in the clinical or research track.

When do fellows get vacation?

Fellows receive four weeks vacation per year. First year fellows' vacations are assigned and they receive two 2-week blocks. Second year fellows may select their vacation weeks as long as it does not interfere with their inpatient service blocks.

Can fellows moonlight? If so, where?

Moonlighting is not permitted for first year fellows. During the second year, fellows can moonlight within the Penn system. Per ACGME rules, moonlighting must count towards the 80-hour work week and must be approved by the Program Director.

Outpatient Clinics

When and where are the outpatient clinics for fellows? Do fellows rotate in specialty clinics?

Clinics are held at PCAM (Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine), Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC), and Philadelphia VA Medical Center (PVAMC). All fellows have one half-day per week of continuity clinic throughout fellowship.

In the first year, this clinic is held at PCAM or PPMC.

In the second year, clinical fellows have continuity clinic at PVAMC with a secondary clinic at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) or PPMC. Research fellows have continuity clinic at HUP. Fellows rotate through monthly peritoneal dialysis clinic and weekly transplant clinic (for six months) during their second year. They also have ample opportunity to rotate in subspecialty clinics including glomerulonephritis clinic, stone clinic, complex hypertension clinic, amyloid clinic, and home-hemodialysis clinic.

Conferences

What is the fellows' conference schedule?

There are multiple conferences held at HUP. All fellows are expected to attend:

  • Monday - Renal Case Conference (accompanied by mini-lectures covering physiology, pathology, and classic renal papers) with a monthly Journal Club
  • Wednesday - Renal Transplant Conference
  • Thursday - Renal Grand Rounds
  • Friday - Fellows Core Conference

There are also monthly board review sessions held for the second year fellows. Additionally, second year fellows have the opportunity to get involved in providing monthly medical student and resident didactics, as well assisting with the renal physiology course for pre-clinical medical students.

Research Training

Research training is available for selected applicants and a separate application process for the specific track needs to take place during the first year of fellowship.

How is the research training supported?

Research fellows are supported by one of our NIH T32 training grants and some of our fellows subsequently receive NIH career development (K) awards.

How and when do fellows choose a research mentor?

Nephrology fellows meet with the Fellowship Advisory Committee (FAC - composed of 10 faculty members with expertise in research) twice during their first clinical year. At the first meeting, the FAC will recommend several candidates for faculty mentorship. Fellows will meet with these candidates and choose an appropriate mentor at that point. This "primary" mentor will serve as a career and research mentor for the fellows throughout their time at Penn.

For research fellows, the primary mentor will help to create a scholarly oversight committee (composed of three faculty members with relevant expertise). The scholarly oversight committee will meet with the research fellows at least twice a year after the first clinical year to ensure that appropriate progress is being made on research and career development.

What is the CCEB? What is an MSCE?

Fellows on the clinical epidemiology track typically enroll in the Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE) program and receive their training through the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB). The CCEB is a part of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and provides an interdepartmental structure linking clinical epidemiologists and biostatisticians. The CCEB also sponsors regular seminars. The goal of the MSCE program is to train investigators to conduct formal epidemiologic studies and prepare them for academic research careers.

What is an MSHP?

The Perelman School of Medicine conducts a Master's of Science in Health Policy Research that prepares graduates for health services research and health policy research careers in academic, government, community, and industry settings (see www.med.upenn.edu/mshp). The program is a collaborative effort of the Wharton School, the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, and the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. David Asch, MD, MBA, is the Executive Director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, and serves as the faculty trainer for nephrology fellows interested in this career pathway.

The Masters of Science Program in Health Policy Research curriculum provides sophisticated training in health economics, health policy, data collection and analysis, research design, and statistics in a setting of robust support for research across many disciplines pertinent to nephrology. The two-year training program emphasizes research on policy-relevant issues in health care outcomes and comparative effectiveness, often in contexts that are collaborative and interdisciplinary. Trainees gain the skills necessary to combine their clinical expertise with their research training in order to ask and answer important questions about how care is and ought to be organized, financed, managed, and delivered. This is highly relevant to a number of areas in nephrology including, but not limited to, acute and chronic dialysis and transplantation.

The curriculum consists of a total of 12 course units, including seven core courses, the mentored research project (two credits) and three electives, drawn from schools across the University. Core courses include:

  • Economics of Health Care Delivery
  • Introduction to Statistics for Health Policy
  • Health Services and Policy Research Methods I and II
  • Applied Regression Analysis for Health Policy Research
  • Fundamentals of Health Policy
  • Health Services and Policy Research in Progress

The elective courses are drawn from the schools involved in the MSHP program and the Leonard Davis Institute. Existing elective courses include advanced epidemiology or biostatistics from the School of Medicine, advanced health care economics, health care policy or statistics from the Wharton School, survey design, measurement and analysis from the Annenberg School, social policy and social environment from the School of Social Policy and Practice, and social forces and demography from the School of Arts and Sciences.

All students are required to complete a final research project/thesis as part of the Master of Science in Health Policy Research curriculum and individual organizational relationships with the nonprofit sector are facilitated by the program. Scholar projects range from community-based research partnerships with primary data collection, large-scale health policy analysis based research partnerships with primary data collection and large-scale health policy analysis using national administrative datasets. All research projects are guided by small teams of faculty mentors with frequent opportunities for group feedback on research in progress. The program also connects scholars with a strong network of faculty on the campus, community leaders from Philadelphia and program alumni across the U.S.

What is the ITMAT? What is an MTR?

Fellows who wish to pursue training in translational research have the option of enrolling in the Master of Science in Translational Research (MTR) and receive their training through the CTSA-sponsored Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT), the highly collaborative intellectual home of over 800 translational investigators from Penn, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the Wistar Institute, the Monell Institute, and the University of Sciences in Philadelphia.

The objective of the Masters in Translational Research (MTR) program is to provide graduate students with instruction in the fundamental skills, methodology and principles necessary to become a well-trained translational investigator. The program is designed to meet these objectives through the provision of didactic course work, a formal mentorship program, formal laboratory training, and specific ongoing guidance with hands-on exposure to protocol and grant development.

Trainees are expected to complete a primary research project of their own design under the supervision of their primary mentor. The primary mentor plays a role in helping the student identify a feasible research question for a thesis. The thesis should consolidate students' knowledge of the principles and practice of translational research, and provide their first experience in writing a comprehensive NIH grant style proposal. Like other components of the Renal Research Training Program, the research project associated with the MTR is the primary focus of the trainee's experience.

Additional FAQs

View Additional Fellowship FAQs [PDF]

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