A urologist specializes in the urinary system. The urinary system includes the organs and tubes in your urinary track such as your kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Urologist pretty much specialize in any disease or infection impacting how your body rids itself of waste through the urinary system. Watch a video by Nationwide Children’s Hospital where their Chief of Urology, Dr. Rama Jayanthi, discusses why he chose Urology as a profession.
How to Become a Urologist
A urologist is essentially a doctor that specializes in the urinary system; therefore, they must take all the steps to earn their doctorate in medicine. Check out our article that outlines How To Become a Doctor to learn how to complete this step. Medical school can take anywhere from 4-6 years. All medical programs consist of courses in anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, and pharmacology. Also, you learn the basics of interviewing and examining patients. Last but not least, there also are several labs and hospital rotations required for completion. You then sit for your boards (several exams) to earn the M.D. title.
Only after obtaining your M.D. title can you start to work towards working towards specializing in urology. According to the American College of Surgeons, you must continue your education; this takes an additional five years and consists of a urology residency program, surgical training, and rotations in various medical environments. This additional training is vital as urologists diagnose and treat a wide range of infections and diseases in both men, women, and children.
Conditions urologists can treat range from Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), cancer, kidney stones, erectile dysfunction, and incontinence. Because of their training, a urologist can perform a range of duties, from diagnostic tests to surgical procedures. There are also additional sub-specializations within urology; these specializations can include oncology, stone disease, infertility, impotence, incontinence, and laparoscopy. Each specialty can take one to three years of additional clinical training after becoming a urologist.
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Job Description of a Urologist
A urologist specializes in the urinary tract system. Patients are referred to urologists when they are having complications relating to the male genitourinary tract and female urinary tract. Usually, patients get referred to be diagnosed with an issue or need treatment for a known condition involving the kidneys, ureters, bladder, prostate, urethra, or testes. A urologist may also refer patients to another urologist who specializes in specific conditions, such as cancer or infertility.
Throughout the day, urologists conduct exams, diagnose, and formulate patient treatment plans. Treatment plans can be minimally invasive or require major surgical operations-usually done in a hospital setting or surgical center. Procedures can include removing a blockage or even potential growths within the urinary tract, treating bladder infection, or performing urodynamic testing.
According to the American College of Surgeons, urologists in a private practice can expect to see 50-100 patients a week. Some days of the week, they will dedicate to their diagnostic or treatment surgical procedures, while the rest of the time, they will see patients in the office. In an office setting, they may perform other minor procedures such as cystoscopies, prostate biopsies, and vasectomies.
Lifework balance is difficult as a Urologist; they usually work long and irregular work hours. Though some only work two to four days per week, they can see over 25 patients a day. However, on surgery days, schedules can be much longer, pending the complexity of the operation performed. If on-call, urologists tend to emergencies, which can also require long hours, a lot of emergencies require operations. Most of the time, the doctors at the practice take turns doing being on call, so this can vary from 1-2 two times per month.
This job can be very demanding and stressful. Attention to detail, active listening, compassion, and an understanding personality is essential, due to the topic being treated can be embarrassing for patients to talk about outside their home.
Teacher and Student Resources
Students interested in a career in medicine can review educational resources designed for patients. The American College of Surgeons has Operation Brochures for patients and they also have a guide to surgical specialities.
Article Career Resources
The American College of Surgeons. Urology.
National Center for O*NET Development. 29-1069.12. O*NET OnLine.