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Why Nephrology?

Updated: Sep 20, 2019

Trying to figure out what kind of doctor you should become? Wondering what specialty you should choose? Then SheMD's Why Specialty Series is perfect for you! We're bringing you female physicians sharing WHY they chose their specialty. Today's post is on why Dr. Baynes-Fields chose the field of nephrology!

To be honest, renal physiology was my LEAST favorite system during medical school, and this seems to be the consensus amongst current medical students as well. The complexity of renal physiology is enough to turn away anyone from our field. But as I started internship and began to clinically apply renal physiology to hospitalized patients, the puzzle pieces started to make sense and my passion for the field bloomed. Nephrology is truly an art; a combination of physiology and clinical gestalt.

The diversity of a nephrologist’s day is what made me fall in love with our field. I like to say, you can find a nephrologist on the most complex case in the ICU during morning rounds and in the afternoon sitting next to her 10-year dialysis patient talking about the family weekend barbecue.

When growing up, I dreamed of becoming a doctor and loved the idea of ‘old school’ home visits and the personal connection with patients. As I journeyed through medical school, it was discouraging to see the disconnect between my vision of being a ‘doctor’ and reality in the modern age of technology. I yearned for that personal connection with patients and the ability to heal through human connection. I found this in nephrology.

The relationship between a nephrologist and her chronic dialysis patients is unlike any other in the field of medicine. Dialysis patients are at their outpatient dialysis center at least three times per week for approximately 4 hours. Since nephrologist get to see their patients on a weekly basis, they develop a relationship that fosters trust and a sense of family-like closeness. This aspect of nephrology reminds me of childhood belief of what ‘being a doctor’ truly meant. Unfortunately, few internal medicine residents get to experience this unique aspect of nephrology since most residents deliver primarily inpatient care.

In addition to chronic disease management, the complexity of inpatient renal physiology is challenging and rewarding! The acuity of making fluid balance decisions, correcting severe electrolytes disturbances, initiating continuous renal replacement therapies, assessing acute renal failure, and renal transplant cases are just a few of the consultations we tackle daily. There is no better satisfaction than preserving a young lupus nephritis patients’ renal function with early detection and treatment.

“The kidney, more than any other organ, is the responsible for maintaining the internal environment of the body,” said Homer Smith a renowned renal physiologist and author of From Fish to Philosopher (a must read for any future nephrologist!). Nephrology truly encompasses the best of acute and chronic medical decision making and aspires to achieve balance of the body, mind, and soul.

The possibilities in nephrology are endless. You can market yourself in any-way you choose and truly find your niche within an ever-expanding specialty.

Join me in the fun of saving nephrons!

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