Medical Science Educator

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 357–363 | Cite as

A Comparative Physiology Course May Encourage Academic Careers in Renal Fellows

  • Jeffrey H. William
  • Grace C. Huang
  • Shoshana J. Herzig
  • Mark L. Zeidel
Original Research


Educational innovations in nephrology have focused largely on attracting trainees to the field, but few efforts have influenced the career development of nephrology fellows. We investigated the impact of an annual, week-long summer course titled “Origins of Renal Physiology” on academic career development by conducting a survey study of course participants and a control group of renal fellows who did not participate in the course. The survey elicited reasons for course attendance, perceptions of the course, and current career paths of respondents. We compared career trajectories and academic productivity between course participants and non-participants. Fellows attended the course primarily to review physiology in a novel educational setting and to gain long-term understanding of concepts in renal physiology. Course participants reported significantly higher current engagement in research than non-participants, especially in basic science. Analysis of free-text responses about the course’s most positive attributes identified four themes: interactions/networking, hands-on laboratory experience, mentorship, and unique learning environment. The course appears to have offered an innovative learning opportunity that fostered mentorship and peer-to-peer networking in a scientific, relaxed, and supportive learning environment. Emphasizing the role of basic science research and its application to clinical care through such courses may stimulate the interests of fellows into research and academic careers.


Nephrology Physiology Academics Fellowship Medical education 



The authors acknowledge with gratitude the faculty of the courses, as well as the staff of MDIBL, particularly Judi Medlin and Charles Fidler, for help running the course and identifying the participants.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Association of Medical Science Educators 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey H. William
    • 1
    • 2
  • Grace C. Huang
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Shoshana J. Herzig
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mark L. Zeidel
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Medicine, Division of NephrologyBostonUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Medicine, Division of General MedicineBostonUSA
  4. 4.Carl J. Shapiro Institute for Education and Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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