Nephrology board prep

The results are in. Looks like the best way to study for the nephrology board exam, scheduled to be given on November 4th, 2010, is the ASN Board Review Course. I personally did not attend this course last year, but I did hear very good things about it. Comments from a course attendee- “it was focused, organized and worth the money”. By no means is this course cheap. For fellows-in-training it cost $975 to register for the week long course (held August 28th-September 3rd, 2010). Not to mention the plane ticket to San Francisco and “special” hotel rate of $234 a day. Adding in miscellaneous costs (food, taxi etc) and this trip could cost you well over $2800. Add this to the outrageous fee of $2060 to take the nephrology boards and you can see why you don’t want to take this test twice. So, for anyone interested, prepare to shell out $2,800.
Maybe some of the fellows or attendings can chime in on what they think about the ASN review course.

Next, in second place is the Brigham Renal Board Review Course (combined DVD and in-person). This is a 5 day course held in Boston, MA, August 9-13, 2010. Tuition is $695 and the Hotel rate is 119/night. I’ve also heard great things about this course. Personally, I did not attend this course, but instead purchased the DVD. Total Cost of Course- $2,000. The DVD’s can be purchased for $1500. I found these useful especially the acid base and fluid/electrolyte sections.

Coming in third is Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology. Pictured to the left is the cover of the much awaited 4th edition taken from the Elsevier website scheduled to be released in September of 2010. My study group (consisting of 4 fellows) used the 3rd edition to prepare for last years exam. We started going through the text a few weeks after the in-service exam results were released (in early June) and finished in late September. The group met once every two weeks. We would each summarize 2-3 chapters at the bi-weekly meeting. So, we would go through about 8-10 chapters every 2 weeks allowing us to finish the entire book in 10 or so meetings (101 chapters). Overall, I think this method is difficult to achieve by oneself as the book is rather cumbersome. It really takes a group approach to get through this. Bottom line, this is a great textbook and something every fellow should have. I would only try using this book for board prep if you have a dedicated group.
Cost- $200.

Coming in at a tie for fourth is Renal Fellow Network and NephSAP. The RFN site and other popular nephrology specific websites (Uremic Frost, Nephron Power, Precious Bodily Fluids, Nephrology On Demand) have become an increasingly popular way to get relevant and easily digestible information. RFN has over 600 topics currently cataloged. I used renal fellow network extensively and thought it was a great way to read about interesting topics. We hope to continue this for years to come. Cost- Free
NephSAP was probably the most disappointing series from a board prep perspective in my view. To me, NephSAP is very detail oriented with much of the focus is on “cutting edge” research. The text was not helpful, in my opinion, for high yield study prep. However, you can access the online version of the exam questions which are worth reading a few weeks prior to the exam.

Cost- Free for fellows with the complimentary fellow ASN membership

Lastly, I included a few other options like UpToDate, The NKF Primer on Kidney Disease, Burton Rose- Acid Base and Journal Review Articles. Each of these can be useful study tools. Nate has already commented on the utility of Burton Rose-Acid Base which I would completely agree with. Interestingly, it seems that many institutions are forgoing their subscription to UpToDate secondary to cost. To purchase this on your own it will cost $195 for a trainee and $495 for a non-trainee (1-year). The Primer might be a better way to study as it is more concise than Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology. Maybe someone can comment on this.
In conclusion, I was a little disappointed with the study prep options available for the nephrology ABIM subspecialty exam. Especially with the multitude of options available for the Internal Medicine exam. My main problem was the lack of good question banks that are specifically geared for Nephrology. NephSAP provides a few, but this was hardly enough. The MKSAP nephrology section questions are a little to broad and frankly do not go into enough detail that a nephrology fellow needs. This is not, by any means, a comprehensive list of study options. I welcome any other options that I didn’t include. A quick google search on this topic yields very little information. Good luck to anyone studying for the exam. My best piece of advice, “devise a plan early and stick to it”.


  1. Does anyone know minimum passing score for abim nephrology boards?

  2. The Renal Association is involved in many joint activities, and liaises with many other relevant groups. Some of the organisations with which we share formal committees are: – renal exam course

  3. The Brigham Renal Board Review Audio Course OCt 2010 for Sale @ ebay

  4. Can anyone comment on how similar (grade of difficulty) are the the Nephrology Board questions as compared to the Nephrology ITE (In-training Exam) ?

  5. Not sure about the ASN Lectures.

  6. Any idea on how many hours long are the ASN lectures?

  7. The Nephrology exam has 4 sections with 50 question each for a total of 200 questions (at least this was true last year 2009). I can't find any information on the ABIM website to verify this is correct this year.

  8. How many questions in Nephrology boards?

  9. Does anyone know the pass rate for first time takers?

  10. I think it is more than sufficient to review the syllabus and listen to the lectures (rather than physicaclly attend the course).

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