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Q&A with Timothy Bunchman, MD, Professor and Chief, Nephrology, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU

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Since Timothy Bunchman, MD, joined Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) in 2011, CHoR’s Nephrology program has expanded to include five physicians, a nurse practitioner, two nurse educators, a social worker, a dietician and nurses. The team provides general and transplant care to patients with chronic kidney disease and urinary tract disorders. With funding from Children’s Hospital Foundation, an ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) approved Pediatric Nephrology Fellowship program began in July 2014. CHoR has also been ranked among the nation’s best nephrology services by U.S. News & World Report for four of the last five years.

What has contributed to CHoR’s U.S. News & World Report rankings over the last five years?

Our team is so important and is the reason we are successful. Our whole team, including our nurses, dietician and social worker, does a great job affecting patient care, and our nurse educators know each of our patient’s situations and can quickly get them the services they need. We offer same-day or next-day appointments for patients in an industry where the wait is usually four to six weeks. We see patients at CHoR’s Children’s Pavilion as well as in Fredericksburg, Petersburg and at Stony Point, and we always have a physician dedicated to inpatients and a physician dedicated to outpatients. The support of our colleagues in radiology and the lab is also important.

How has the Nephrology program grown since your arrival in 2011?

In addition to rebuilding the team, we have seen a large increase in patient volume. Seven years ago, we had less than 650 total inpatient and outpatient visits, and this year we are projecting more than 5,000 visits with two-thirds of those visits being outpatients. Our patients come to us from the Central Virginia area as well as through out-of-state referrals. Our Fredericksburg location, which opened three and a half years ago and recently moved to a larger location, has been incredibly important for treating patients who can choose to come to us or go to Washington, D.C. for care. We have also expanded our collaboration with other CHoR specialists through a variety of multi-specialty clinics, which is a unique model and allows our patients to see multiple providers during one visit. We have combined clinics with urology, transplant surgery, gastroenterology, rheumatology, cardiology, pulmonology, and hematology and oncology, to name a few.

How do you support the education of current students as well as encourage continuing education for your team?

In addition to our Pediatric Nephrology Fellowship program, we never say no to anyone who wants to learn from us. We have had high school, college, medical, dental, nursing, therapy, and social work students work with us as part of their education. Our team has authored numerous papers, participated in multiple research studies, lectured in seven different countries, and last year, Dr. Megan Lo and the team hosted the Midwest Pediatric Nephrology Research conference with attendees representing 43 universities in the U.S. and Canada. Being connected to an academic medical center also allows us to learn from our colleagues in adult specialties.

What are your goals for CHoR’s Nephrology program over the next 5-10 years?

I’m hoping to leave a legacy of strength through the great members of our team. CHoR is known throughout the country, and we will continue to work with other institutions to expand and provide services. Our goal is to become a destination for health care on the East Coast where we serve patients from New York to Florida.