Tingting Li, MD, WashU Nephrology’s first associate program director for Clinical Research and Career Development and Wellness

“It is our responsibility to not only train our fellows to be excellent nephrologists, but also equip them with necessary skills to build successful careers,” says Tingting Li, MD, the Division of Nephrology’s first associate program director for Clinical Research and Career Development and Wellness, who was part of the inaugural Career Development Retreat held in October 2019.

The retreat was organized as an acknowledgement that fellows need guidance on the real aspects of career pathways.  “We do an excellent job in providing great medical training and clinical experiences,” says division chief Benjamin Humphreys, MD, “but we also need to support our fellows as they transition to the real world and the business of medicine.”

Dr. Li was among four renal faculty who helped launch the retreat and guide its panel discussions and lectures.  Others involved were Steven Cheng, MD, Charbel Khoury, MD, and Anubha Mutneja, MD.

Panel discussions at the retreat focused on the advantages and challenges of an academic or private practice career, the “business” side of a nephrology practice, and diversity in the workplace.  Fellows were able to interact with both academic and community nephrologists to discuss such questions as: How do you successfully navigate the challenges of opening a private practice or serving as a medical director of a dialysis unit?  How should you negotiate a salary?  How can you better balance work and family life?

A lecture by an immigration lawyer focused on challenges faced by international medical graduates and a dialysis unit medical director discussed the skills needed to serve in a business leadership role.

Dr. Li discusses career development with a first-year fellow.

“I honestly wish I had something like this when I was a renal fellow,” says Li.  “Instead, we learned on the job.  It’s a huge commitment on the part of the division to offer this program, but I think it was a definite success and we plan to do this annually.”