Nephrologist Training Requirements
To become a renal physician in the United States, a person must first graduate from medical school, then become board-certified in internal medicine by completing a 3+ year internal medicine residency program. After completing this "apprenticeship" training, the doctor must pass the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) board certification examination. At this point, the doctor becomes a board-certified internal medicine specialist, also called an internist, and can obtain a license to practice internal medicine.
Most internists go on to specialize further, as in the case of nephrologists. The subspecialty training is called a fellowship and typically takes 2-3 additional years. During the fellowship, the aspiring kidney doctor will learn specialized information about the physiology and diseases of the kidneys; practice in clinical diagnosis and management of kidney patients; and learn all the kidney-related procedures needed for practice in nephrology, such as how to perform a kidney biopsy and insert a dialysis catheter. On completion of the nephrology fellowship, the physician can take the ABIM examination for nephrologists to become a board certified nephrologist.
The process for becoming a pediatric nephrologist, competent to treat children with kidney disorders, is similar to the above, but the initial specialization and residency must be in pediatrics instead of internal medicine.