Summary Report: A New Renal Taster Day, Attracting Junior Doctors to a Career in Nephrology

Dr J Scott, Dr A Menon, Dr I Smith. Southmead Hospital, Bristol.

The Idea

We developed the renal taster day to attract junior doctors to a career in Nephrology and counteract current low applicant numbers. Junior doctors commonly believe that Renal Medicine is an impossibly academic specialty with a poor work-life balance, and we hoped to demonstrate that this is not always the case!


We advertised via email to UK Core Medical and Foundation programme administrators. Renal Training Programme Directors were made aware of the Taster Day by Dr Karen Anderson1. The Renal Association was kind enough to support our efforts and allowed us to promote our course on their website, as did the Royal College of Physicians.

The Programme

Condensing the programme into a single day enabled costs to be kept to a minimum (£50pp). The majority of talks were delivered in lecture format with plenty of opportunity for questions. Participants were divided into small groups of 6-7 individuals to rotate around the workshops.


Nineteen junior doctors attended, ranging from Foundation Year 2 to post-Core Medical Training Clinical Fellows. Nine participants were training in the South West, with others from London, Cambridge, Durham, Manchester, Oxford, Sunderland, Newcastle and Bournemouth.


The feedback received was excellent. Participants appeared to enjoy the day as well as finding it valuable in terms of settling on a specialist career pathway. Participants were on average 20% more likely to apply for renal training having attended the course. The following comments were particularly notable:

What factors attract or deter you from Renal Training?

  • “Lack of work-life balance” was the most common reason not to wish to apply.
  • The variety of pathology encountered and continuity of care were reasons for wanting to train in Nephrology.

What were the best aspects of the course?

  • The small group educational sessions.
  • A “really approachable” team and an “informal and inclusive” atmosphere.
  • 100% said the course was good value for money.

What could have been improved?

  • Opportunities to practice procedural skills and mock interviews.
  • 70% of trainees would have been interested in attending a course run over 2 days.

Future plans

We plan to run this course again in 2018. Our greatest hurdle is ensuring that all those that might wish to attend have heard about the course. We hope that “word of mouth” and greater use of social media will generate increased numbers of participants in future years.  We would like to keep the cost low for participants and may look into alternative sources of funding in order to be able to offer further experiences such as simulated renal biopsy and central line insertion, as well as invite speakers from outside the South West.

With thanks to

Dr K Anderson1, Dr P Bailey, Dr C Dudley, Dr B Hole, Dr Tim Lewis-Morris, Dr A Power, Dr S West.

  1. Consultant Nephrologist and South West Renal Programme Director.