What Do Nephrologists Do? 5 Amazing Kidney Doctor Facts

The term nephrologist comes from the Greek word “nephros,” which means "kidney" or "renal," and “ologist,” which refers to someone who studies.
By: Shree Mulay, MD

Nephrologists, also known as kidney doctors, are medical doctors who specialize in the care and education of individuals with severe and chronic kidney diseases. Nephrology is a subspecialty of internal medicine focusing on diagnosing and treating kidney diseases, including managing dialysis care for people with end-stage renal disease.

Fun fact:

The term nephrologist comes from the Greek word “nephros,” which means “kidney” or “renal,” and “ologist,” which refers to someone who studies. Thus, nephrologist means “someone who studies kidneys”.

Let’s take a look at five things to know about Nephrologists (Kidney Doctors):

1. How much must one study to become a Kidney Doctor?

We typically attend four years of medical school and then complete a three-year internal medicine-focused residency. But wait, it doesn’t stop there! Once this residency is complete, we must undergo an intense two-year fellowship in the kidney specialty before taking the exam to become a nephrologist. That’s a whole lot of note-taking!

2. What Does a Nephrologist Do?

When our kidneys aren’t working, life isn’t fun. After your primary care physician determines your kidneys aren’t working well, they may send you to a nephrologist to look for the cause of your kidney problem and devise a treatment plan that slows or stops it. Many different conditions and diseases could affect kidney function; several relate to hypertension or high blood pressure. The most widely-known kidney diseases include chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, kidney damage from cancer, nephrotic syndrome, polycystic kidney disease, and kidney disease from high blood pressure.

3. Where Do Kidney Doctors Work?

Some have a private practice and work in their own office or in a group with other nephrologists. Many consultant nephrologists also consult on cases in hospitals and see patients in dialysis units.

4. Why See a Nephrologist?

Patients whose primary care physicians have determined them to have kidney-related disorders should see a kidney doctor. Common kidney disorder symptoms include frequent urination, dark-colored urine, chronic urinary tract infections, mid-back pain (below the ribcage), puffy eyes, swollen ankles or face, acute renal failure, accelerated decline in kidney function, high blood pressure that does not respond to medication, a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 60 or lower, repeat kidney stones, blood or protein loss in the urine, and more.

5. What’s It Like to Work With a Kidney Doctor?

Once you’ve started working with a kidney doctor, it’s important to develop a trusting and collaborative relationship with each other—including the doctor’s team. This is a critical step in managing your kidney disease. A good kidney doctor will guide you and help you better understand what life is like for someone with kidney disease. You will devise a lifestyle plan to adapt to treatments and medications while maintaining kidney function and the quality of life you deserve. This includes eating yummy food – check out our kidney-friendly recipes!

Do You Have a Question for The Kidney Experts?

We hope you’ve learned some interesting facts today about nephrologists! The truth is there are so many other topics we want to cover and share with you on your kidney health journey. If you have a question for us, please let us know, and we’ll either reach out to you or look into covering it in another blog post. You can submit your message here. You can also message us on Facebook!

the kidney experts dr shree mulay

About Shree Mulay, MD
Shree Mulay, MD, is a nephrologist and co-owner of The Kidney Experts. He went to medical school at Mahatma Gandhi Mission Medical College and completed his residency at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.  Shree manages patients at several West Tennessee Healthcare Hospital locations and serves at numerous dialysis locations across the region. He also sees patients at four kidney care clinic locations. Funny, caring and always wanting to help, Shree is passionate about his practice and devotes much of his time to his patients.

Learn more