Kidney disease is increasingly recognized as an important contributor to the global burden of disease, and surveys show there is a high level of perceived inadequacy in the pediatric nephrology workforce. Dorey Glenn, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatric nephrology, has been working to create new opportunities for education and training in resource limited parts of the world, such as Bhutan, where an ongoing collaboration is helping to train the country’s first pediatric nephrologist and brought the first locally-trained Bhutanese pediatrician to UNC for a nephrology observership last year. Now, Glenn is working with the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology (ASPN) to create new partnerships with an international pediatric nephrology association and a US-based medical volunteer NGO, to increase opportunities for global volunteerism in pediatric nephrology.
Describe your work with the ASPN?
“This year I’ve taken a leadership role in the ASPN Global Health Subcommittee, which seeks to provide opportunities for US pediatric nephrologists to broaden the scope of their clinical and academic activities by supporting engagements in the educational and service delivery needs of communities in low resourced settings worldwide.”
“One of our goals is to facilitate opportunities for American and Canadian pediatric nephrologists to volunteer their time abroad and contribute to nephrology-specific needs. I am working with a nonprofit organization Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO)—that previously facilitated my connection to a teaching hospital in Bhutan–to find other sites that could benefit from pediatric nephrology-related training and volunteerism.”
What new global health sites are being served?
“Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia, has recognized needs for support around pediatric nephrology issues. Last year, our subcommittee sent a member from Children’s Hospital of Atlanta to conduct a needs-assessment. Angkor is a privately funded hospital that provides high quality care to a large of number of Cambodians at no cost, with approximately 500 outpatients a day, a 40-bed inpatient and 17-bed PICU.”
How are you working to create sustainable education and training?
“This past October, I visited Angkor Hospital for Children for two weeks, to continue the relationship and address some of their nephrology needs. I worked with a Cambodian physician who has a long-standing interest in nephrology and has had some training over the years in pediatric nephrology, but not a formal fellowship. The hospital has a lot of steroid sensitive and steroid resistant nephrotic syndrome. We did consults together and a lot of outpatient work.”
“This physician has also taken an administrative step toward education in the hospital, and we’ve worked together to come up with a five-year plan for training an additional nephrologist at that site. We’re also interfacing with resources that exist through the International Pediatric Nephrologist Association (IPNA).”
Describe what you contributed to the health care workers at Angkor?
“I gave 10 lectures while I was there and grand rounds, covering a wide array of nephrology topics. The site trains pediatric residents and a large number of interns and nurses, and is working with the Cambodian government to help train nurses at other hospitals. The nurses approached me and asked if I could offer a lecture just for them. That was one of the most enjoyable lectures I presented. I found the nurses incredibly excited about nephrology and fully engaged with the material.”
Global Health Interest and Experience: What did you learn from surveying pediatric nephrologists and trainees in the US?
“Over the last year, we surveyed pediatric nephrology fellows and practicing nephrologists to understand their global health experience and to gauge interest in future global health activities and possible barriers. We learned that many pediatric nephrologists (and trainees) are interested in participating in global health activities, including journal clubs, volunteerism, consultation, mentorship and research, and are interested in a variety of topics. It was great to get a broad view of what the subcommittee should be doing.”
“Dr. Anisha Hegde, a second-year pediatric resident who is interested in both nephrology and global health, created a poster of the survey results. She recently traveled to Venice, Italy, to present our findings at the 2019 International Pediatric Nephrology Association meeting.”