Abstract: FR-OR008

NephMadness: 5 Years’ Experience

Session Information

Category: Nephrology Education

  • 1301 Educational Research


  • Topf, Joel M., Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Rochester, Michigan, United States
  • Burgner, Anna Marie, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, United States
  • Yau, Timothy, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri, United States
  • Hiremath, Swapnil, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Sparks, Matthew A., Duke University and Durham VA Medical Centers, Durham, North Carolina, United States

NephMadness (NM) is an educational game that takes place entirely on the internet through blog-based review articles, participatory interactive website, and Twitter-based discussion. NM leverages social media and Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAMed) to highlight advances and neglected issues in nephrology. NM began in 2013 and has completed 5 iterations. NM has evolved as the organizers have experimented with the medium. This review of the evolution of NM provides lessons to organizers of other online educational campaigns.


The NM curriculum takes the form of an online game that mimics the March Madness basketball tournament. The field consists of 32 nephrology concepts in 8 topics. The concepts and topics change every year. The field initially consisted of 64 concepts but this was reduced to 32 to encourage participation. Each concept is reviewed in a blog post providing the core educational content of the game. Independent content experts help select the concepts and fact check the blog posts. During the 3-week contest, additional commentaries are published from other experts. In 5 years NM has covered 256 nephrology concepts and posted 185 reviews and commentaries.


Participants attempt to predict the winners of all 31 matchups. Initially the winners of each single elimination contest was scripted by the organizers. After significant push back by the users, winners were selected by participant voting. NM now uses a panel of experts to determine the winners. The NM team encourages training programs to participate using a flipped classroom model. In 2017, 32 training programs participated. NM encourages participation from all levels, ranging from lay people, to medical students, to attendings. Prizes are awarded for the most accurate predictions and for programs with the greatest participation. 1481 individuals from 55 countries, two thirds from the US, have played NM in the last 4 years.


NM is a unique forum to present medical education that takes nephrology education out of the classrooms and textbooks and transforms it into a gamified, interactive campaign that populates social media channels. The mixture of free, evidence-based, expert content with twitter and blogs is a novel method of delivering high quality continuing medical education that could serve as a template for future projects.