In celebration of our 1000th post, we asked Matt Sparks. a former editor of the Renal Fellow Network who is now a faculty member at Duke University in North Carolina for his perspective on his time with this blog. RFN began as the work of one outstanding fellow at MGH and has grown into a collaboration with contributors from around the US (and further afield). Here’s to the next 1000 posts. Take it away Matt…
The Renal Fellow Network has provided a substantial influence to my young career as a nephrologist. First and foremost I want to recognize the role Nate Hellman played in founding and inspiring both RFN and the entire online nephrology community into what it is today. Without Nate’s efforts RFN would have never even existed. I first met Nate back in 2008 at the inaugural Mount Desert Island Renal Fellows Course; Origins of Renal Physiology. He told me about his blog which he had already aptly named Renal Fellow Network. I visited RFN frequently and found his daily updates extremely helpful and interesting. I’m still in awe of how he was able to generate a new post on almost a DAILY basis.
After his untimely death in 2010 I felt that this incredible resource needed to continue. I contacted Conall O’Seaghdha and told him that I was interested in helping keep the site going. This turned out to be an exciting, rewarding and sometimes challenging experience. I quickly realized that RFN was an important resource for fellows, physicians, medical students, healthcare workers and importantly patients all over the world. I was shocked how far and wide our reach was. During the time I was deputy editor of RFN I learned so much about nephrology, science and people. RFN has a unique perspective to offer. Fellows are writing educational pieces about information that they are just being exposed to. In essence these are “real time” accounts of the learning process itself. This is truly refreshing for the reader of the blog. No preconceived biases or self promotion. We always strive to make sure the science discussed on RFN is accurate with appropriate citations provided when necessary. However, keeping the site going was sometimes challenging. We were always looking for new fellows from around the US and world to contribute. We solicited help from the major nephrology societies to provide administrative help and I personally want to thank the National Kidney Foundation for their support.
Personally, I have benefited tremendously from my interactions of many individuals on RFN. I have formed many friendships and collaborations from both RFN colleagues and the online nephrology community. My plea is for current renal fellows to get involved. The Renal Fellow Network was a gift that Nate Hellman gave to us. Let’s keep RFN going strong. Share what you are learning with the community. You will be surprised how rewarding this can be. Cheers to the 1000th post on RFN. This is truly an accomplishment. Let there be many more.