• Suzanne Boyle, MD

    2021 William and Sandra Bennett Clinical Scholars Grant Recipient
    Suzanne Boyle, MD

    Suzanne Boyle, MD

    2021 William and Sandra Bennett Clinical Scholars Grant Recipient

    Institution: Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

    Project Title: Creation and Validation of a Tool to Assess Clinical Reasoning in Nephrology Fellows


    Provide a brief overview of the research/project you will conduct with help from the grant.

    Clinical reasoning is the process by which clinicians gather, interpret, and synthesize data to arrive at a working diagnosis and management plan. It has both conscious and unconscious components and is subject to a variety of biases that predispose to diagnostic error. Because nephrologists treat patients with high medical complexity, it is critical that nephrology fellows develop strong clinical reasoning skills during their training in order to reduce the risk of medical error. Therefore, we aim to develop a validated and easily-administered web-based tool to assess nephrology fellows' diagnostic and management clinical reasoning. The tool will be used to provide formative feedback to all fellows regarding their demonstration of clinical reasoning in a serial fashion, and will identify fellows with significant clinical reasoning deficits that warrant coaching.

    What inspired you to focus your work in this area?

    As a nephrology educator, I regularly observe fellows balancing a high volume of complex patients in high intensity environment. For most fellows, the nephrology training experience is unique from their previous clinical experiences and requires adjustment. In order to succeed, fellows must have strong clinical reasoning skills. Because there is currently no framework available to formally assess our fellows' clinical reasoning skills, I was inspired to develop one and to provide nephrology educators with a toolkit to coach fellows in clinical reasoning. 

    What are your career goals at the end of the grant period? Five years out? Ten years out?

    My goal is to create a tool that nephrology training program directors and other nephrology educators can easily access and apply to assess fellows' clinical reasoning. Moreover, I want to enhance awareness of the science of clinical reasoning in fellowship training and to provide a framework for helping fellows improve their reasoning. I hope to develop content expertise and expertise in medical education research through this project. Over the long-term, this expertise will be used to advance other nephrology education initiatives and to provide mentorship to others who aspire to pursue research questions in nephrology education.

    What has surprised you most about your career?

    There is so much diversity available in an academic nephrology career. During my fellowship training, I was fortunate to have outstanding mentorship in both clinical nephrology and clinical epidemiology. I was able to incorporate both of these into my early career. I later learned that I could align my passions for nephrology education and research to conduct medical education research. The KidneyCure Grant will make this possible.

    What are the major challenges facing nephrology today?

    The volume and complexity of our patients is increasing. Fortunately, there are exciting, new therapies on the horizon that have the potential to improve the outcomes we can achieve for patients. This means that nephrologists need to be prepared to learn and adapt to new ways of practicing. As nephrology educators, it is our responsibility to train nephrologists who can expertly review and assimilate data in order to develop and communicate the best diagnostic and management plan for patients. Sound skills in clinical reasoning are crucial so that future nephrologists are equipped to effectively apply new therapies for patients. 

    In one sentence, please describe the importance of having grant funding available through KidneyCure.

    Grant funding through KidneyCure will provide me with the time, support, and mentorship to advance a project that is meaningful to both me and to the nephrology education community.  

    Something you may not know about me is…

    I organize my domestic travels around opportunities to visit U.S. Presidential childhood homes and libraries.  I've been to fourteen so far and intend to keep checking them off my bucket list!

    In my free time I like to…

    Spend time with my family and friends, search for the best pizza places in the greater Philadelphia area, visit history museums.

    Follow on Twitter: @smboylemd