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What is a Nephrologist?

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

nephrology doctor with stethoscope looking at medical chart

A nephrologist, or simply a “kidney doctor”, is a physician that specializes in treating the kidneys. They can treat conditions like chronic kidney disease, acute renal failure, kidney stones and high blood pressure.

Unless your insurance company requires a referral (which is becoming less and less common), you can always look into scheduling an appointment with a specialist on your own. You do not have to wait for a referral or “permission” from your doctor to do this. Seeing a nephrologist may be a good idea if you feel you are not getting adequate care or want a second opinion.

Nephrologists are sometimes confused with urologists, which is understandable because there is some overlap in the conditions that these specialists treat. Urologists treat the entire urinary tract which includes the kidneys, while nephrologists only treat conditions directly related to the kidneys.

For someone to become a nephrologist, after medical school, they will do a residency in internal medicine, which usually lasts 3 years. After the residency, they take the American Board of Internal Medicine and then complete a 2-3 year nephrology fellowship. He or she will then obtain a license to practice in their state.



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