It’s no secret that the number of nephrologists nearing retirement is growing while the number of new physicians who are specializing in nephrology is shrinking. Combine that with the ever-increasing number of chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients in the United States and staffing the future of nephrology can sound daunting.

There’s not a lot that we can do to change the minds of physicians in training and make the specialty of nephrology more appealing to them. Instead, the nephrology community should embrace this evolving dynamic and find new solutions to support patients in need of kidney care. Enter advanced practitioners – nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Adding a nurse practitioner or physician assistant to your team can be instrumental to your practice’s future success. Nephrology practices, along with almost every other type of medical specialty practice, are trying to figure out how to expand their practices and manage more patients; adding an AP to the team is helping many practices achieve these goals.

Advanced practitioner’s duties on your team will depend on your individual practice needs. Many nephrology practices are using advanced practitioners to treat patients with electrolyte disorders, hypertension, CKD, and end-stage renal disease, including patients receiving dialysis and who have received a kidney transplantation. They can treat patients in clinic and round on patients in dialysis facilities and hospitals. Advanced practitioners can collaborate with nephrologists to provide individualized education and support to nephrology patients. They can also help the practice build and maintain rapport with patients and families.

So instead of being frightened by the idea of a shrinking nephrology physician workforce, know you have the option to hire an advanced practitioner to support and enhance your practice.

If you have further questions on this topic, we would love to hear from you! Email us at fellowshipoutreach@davita.com for more information or to share your thoughts with us on the topic!

*Regulations vary state to state. Please check with your state to determine what responsibilities a PA or NP can take on in your state.