American Society of Nephrology Annual Meeting

American Society of Nephrology Annual Meeting


Agarwal A. President’s address. Presented at: ASN Kidney Week. Oct. 22-25, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Agarwal reports no relevant financial disclosures.
October 22, 2020
2 min read

Health disparities, workforce issues require solidarity in nephrology


Agarwal A. President’s address. Presented at: ASN Kidney Week. Oct. 22-25, 2020 (virtual meeting).

Disclosures: Agarwal reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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American Society of Nephrology President Anupam Agarwal, MD, FASN, opened ASN Kidney Week by highlighting the resilience and dedication of the kidney community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those moments for the specialty, he said during his presidential address, are examples of why nephrology should attract more medical professionals to the specialty.

Nephrologist at desk
Source: Adobe Stock

“For too long, nephrology has been undervalued compared to other specialties, despite the lifesaving contributions from those in our field,” Agarwal said. “This misperception has dampened interest and reduced recruitment of talented professionals needed to build on today’s achievements.”

Building a work force for the future, as well as addressing health disparities and systemic racism in nephrology, are top priorities for ASN, Agarwal said.

“Nephrology is at the crossroads,” Agarwal, head of the division of nephrology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said. “The COVID-19 pandemic and sweeping moments to advocate for racial equality have brought into focus for us, for all of us, the opportunity to take the lead and shape our future.”

Agarwal said ASN members need to address the following three key goals during the next decade: increase the number of nurses and physicians entering nephrology; address diversity and equity; and expand innovation in how kidney disease is detected and treated.

Anupam Agarwal

As part of expanding the workforce, Agarwal said it was important that the nephrology community commit to diversity and inclusion. “Otherwise, nephrology will not reflect the full range and depth of talent needed to deliver exceptional care. Without diversity and inclusion, we cannot take the lead,” he said.

That includes creating more interest among medical students in the United States. “Today, 40% of the nephrology medical workforce is foreign medical graduates,” a number that has increased during the last decade, Agarwal said. “Most of these graduates have restrictions on where they can work. We must create avenues for these graduates to achieve permanent residency and citizenship.”

ASN supports legislation introduced this year that would reinstate 25,000 visas for nurses and 15,000 visas for physicians “and roll back restrictions that disproportionally impact immigrants” who want to practice in the United States, Agarwal said.

With the addition of new technology, supported by federal programs like KidneyX, Agarwal said nephrology has a continued important role in the years ahead. “We must diversity all levels of leadership ... I promise you that ASN will take the lead in building a racially equitable culture in nephrology across the globe.

“Together, we will make 2030 look different than today.”