NephMadness 2016: Why We Do This

NephMadness 2016 Today is World Kidney Day. The day on the calendar when we are supposed to spend some time thinking about our kidneys. Well, the team at AJKD blog never stops thinking about kidneys. We’re weird that way, so we use World Kidney Day to do something for the kidney community. For the last four years that has been NephMadness.

This post traditionally tells what NephMadness is and how you can participate, but Paul did a great job with that. See his post on NephMadness for Dummies. Once you are familiar with the field, go to the NephMadness Bracket Submission Site and make your predictions (by March 23 at 11:59 pm EDT). We will use this post to focus on the “why” we do NephMadness.

We see tremendous opportunity in the use of social media for medical education. This opportunity comes at a time when maintenance of certification and continuing medical education are under fire. Doctors are looking for new answers for the long standing question of how we maintain knowledge and skills after our formal training is complete. A high stakes, fill in the bubble, closed book seems anachronistic in a world of hyperconnected, iPhone wielding, app using physicians. We see medical social media to be a potent solution for post-residency and post-fellowship continuing medical education. And we are not alone. Looking at the demographics of NephMadness 2014 and 2015 we were shocked that the typical player was an attending nephrologist. We had assumed that since NephMadness lives in the social media space that we would be speaking to digital natives that had been Facebooking and Tweeting since high school.

We typically think of social media as being a playground for the young. However, we find something quite different. The majority of participants in NephMadness have completed their formal education and are now responsible for their own education.

Social media provides a casual and conversational way to clear up conceptual confusion and stay abreast of medical advances. New articles, opinions, and research flows to you through your network. You do not need to hunt for the latest information, it surfaces out of the chaos of social media minutiae, the more important the article the more people are talking about it. But the value of the network is dependent on a robust, varied and engaged network; the more academically curious nephrologists that we have participating in our learning network, the more effective it will be.

The nephrology social network that is active on Twitter is incredible and has grown substantially in the last year, take a look at the numbers from Kidney Week 2015:


And similar growth in NephMadness:


We see large high profile events like NephMadness as beacons to draw unsuspecting nephrologists toward the siren call of social media. We draw them in with online competition, high quality writing in an “I can read this over a glass of wine” style that you can’t get in UpToDate. We add links to the important reviews and primary sources so if you want to go deep, NephMadness offers a good starting point.

Changes for 2016

We are shrinking the field. For the first 3 years NephMadness has imitated the NCAA basketball tournament with 64 teams. (Yes, we know the NCAA expanded the field to 68 teams a few years ago, but we’re old school and know that 64 was the right size and 68 is way too many teams.) But this resulted in close to 150 pages of text just to summarize the field. Don’t believe me check out NephMadness Unplugged ‘14 and ‘15 with pages and pages and pages of scouting reports. Just thoughtfully filling out the brackets would require close to an hour. We decided that we might be able to get more engagement by narrowing the field to 32 teams. We call it the Twitter approach. Sometimes in social media, as in life, less is more.

The other change we are making is encouraging more groups, like fellowship/training programs, to play. Last year’s top overall scoring bracket was achieved by team Tamura and Lit taking a collaborative approach. Not only did the two nephrologists team up but they roped in fellows, residents, and students that were rotating through the kidney clinic to help populate their bracket. We would like to formalize this process and see if we can determine which fellowship program is best at NephMadness. So schedule a morning report or noon conference to fill out a collective bracket. Or why don’t you have the consult team face off against the transplant team? We look forward to seeing your participation!

The NephMadness Team

  • Joel Topf
  • Matt Sparks
  • Edgar Lerma
  • Paul Phelan
  • Warren Kupin
  • Kenar Jhaveri
  • Swapnil Hiremath
  • Nikhil Shah


Submit your picks! | For more on NephMadness 2016  | #NephMadness on Twitter

1 Comment on NephMadness 2016: Why We Do This

  1. This is a great way to build continued access to data and intellectually stimulating discourse on the latest trends and also allow sharing knowledge globally

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