At the recent EndoVascular Access meeting (EVA; 24–25 June, Patras, Greece), and UK Kidney Week (UKKW; 7–9 June, Birmingham, UK), renal healthcare professionals had the opportunity to experience bespoke modules and didactic learning on kidney biopsy, ultrasound use for kidney assessment, cutting-edge vascular access updates and peritoneal dialysis (PD). Experts suggest this amplified, well-tailored exposure will help enhance interest in interventional nephrology and support the development of much-needed procedural skills.
Gürkan Sengölge (Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria) set the scene for the need for targeted interventional nephrology training when he commented in his EVA presentation that there were studies showing that short-term, focused training can put nephrology fellows on par with interventional nephrologists in terms of technical skills.
Nephrology Partnership for Advancing Technology in Healthcare (N-PATH), which is described as an innovative European training course in interventional nephrology funded by the European Commission in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme coordinated by the University of Bari (Bari, Italy) in collaboration with the European Renal Association (ERA), the Vascular Access Society, important international academic centres and two companies specialised in medical training, aims to do just that. It seeks to fortify nephrology training with a view to tackling the increase in kidney diseases across the continent. N-PATH will train 40 young European nephrologists from eight different countries, giving them the opportunity to interact and benefit from this two-year educational path.
Twelve nephrology residents from across Europe were selected to attend the EVA meeting, Maurizio Gallieni (University of Milan, Milan, Italy) told Renal Interventions editor-in-chief Nicholas Inston (Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK) when discussing the project.
“N-PATH is dedicated to developing a selected number of nephrology fellows’ interventional nephrology abilities. The concept of N-PATH is blending traditional learning and online learning, and it emphasises learning with hands-on training. So, all the fellows will travel to the eight institutions that are part of the project. In addition to the training, these participants will also have the possibility to create bonds among the group and develop interventional nephrology in the future,” said Gallieni.
“Many of the next generation of nephrologists evidently seek to acquire interventional skills,” Inston added. “This will facilitate a wider role in the assessment, surveillance, maintenance and, in some cases, creation and salvage of dialysis access. This enthusiasm is very encouraging.”
N-PATH is made up of four modules: REMAP (kidney biopsy, renal expert in molecular pathology), REVAC (renal expert in vascular access), REMUS (renal expert in medical ultrasound), and REPED (renal expert in peritoneal dialysis), Gallieni further detailed.
“The students will have access not only to a dedicated digital platform but, also, they will have the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned during the training course through varied hands-on training across Europe, creating a 360-degree educational experience,” a press release outlining the project says.
When interviewed by Monnie Wasse, past-president of the American Society of Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology (ASDIN) and director of Interventional Nephrology at Rush University Medical Centre (Chicago, USA), Louis Firket (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Liège, Liege, Belgium), Raquel Barba Teba (Hospital Universitario Infanta Leonor, Madrid, Spain) and Georgia Georgopoulou (University Hospital of Patras, Patras, Greece) all praised a “great initiative” providing a valuable opportunity to learn best interventional nephrology practices from the participating universities, and develop their skills and take them back to their home countries. “This is something that I will take back to the USA. I love this programme and finding out more about it. Thank you so much for talking with me today,” said Wasse.
Asked by Inston about what these fellows may gain specifically from the EVA meeting, Gallieni said it had allowed N-PATH fellows to “get together again” as well as “provide exposure to a cutting-edge meeting on vascular access, facilitating interaction with other specialists—in particular surgeons and interventional radiologists, which is something they do not currently get in the curriculum of the N-PATH project”.
Hands-on training for renal healthcare professionals also took place at the first UKKW interventional nephrology workshop, with stations on PD; central venous catheter placement using a state-of-the-art simulator; a ‘home-made’ chicken model to practise renal biopsy; and an ultrasound model allowing the display of kidney pathology and physiology.
In addition to supporting the training of kidney specialists, the UK Kidney Association (UKKA)—as an organisation for all healthcare professionals involved in the care of kidney disease patients—is focused on ensuring that clinicians other than doctors are also supported regarding enhanced training in interventional nephrology. That is according to UKKA president Paul Cockwell (Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK), who commented: “Our aim is for comprehensive interventional nephrology as a core component of renal services. In the UK, this is being increasingly delivered by renal doctors and by other healthcare professionals, including specialist renal nurses. Understanding how the workforce and infrastructure is best configured to address the needs of patients with kidney disease is crucial.”