In 2012, Dr. Dave Reid became the first nephrology fellow at the College of Medicine, and he's helped to pave the way for a program that now numbers three.
"I think there’s a growing demand for our services,” explained Reid when asked about the increase in nephrologists in the province. “That demand is increasing because the population is increasing, and the age of the population (is growing) - but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the current nephrologists can’t handle that.”
Nephrology, a specialty that focuses on kidney function and treatment, as well as renal replacement therapies like transplantation and dialysis, has in fact become an important part of the medical community across the country with an estimated 1 in 10 Canadians being at risk of kidney disease.
Programs such as the TeleHealth initiative the nephrology team are an integral part of practice in a province like Saskatchewan where the population is widely dispersed.
“Over the summer they come to see us,” Reid, a Saskatoon native, said concerning TeleHealth. But during the winter months when it’s difficult, and sometimes dangerous, for patients to drive into Saskatoon or Regina for treatment, the satellite-based communication allows the nephrologists to speak with the local doctors or nurses treating these patients.
“But we decided to go up there because it’s more convenient for our patients for us to drive up there and see them at the satellite (locations) than have them drive down here,” Reid explained.
And the patient experience that the nephrologists offer were part of the draw for Reid.
“I enjoyed all of internal medicine,” Reid answered when asked why he’d chosen this specialty. “But specifically nephrology because you’re able to do acute care, you’re able to do chronic care, you can build a long term rapport with your patients and I really enjoyed the diversity of being able to provide both long-term care and short-term care to people.”
The fellowship program that started with Reid has now grown to include one current fellow, and two expected to commence next year, and it’s been a boon for the department.
“The Nephrology Fellowship program is important as training people close to "home" often results in recruitment and retention,” said Dr. Joanne Kappel, the Head of the Division of Nephrology and a clinical professor within the program. “Having a Nephrology Fellowship program in the College of Medicine University of Saskatchewan gives more options to residents who are considering Nephrology as a career. Teaching nephrology fellows ensures that we maintain very high academic standards - and I find teaching fellows to be very rewarding.
“Although this is a new teaching program within the department it has really gotten off the ground.”
And with the three incoming nephrology fellowship students, the College of Medicine and Dr. Kappel have a lot to look forward to.