Urology is the medical specialty that addresses the disease and distress that patients experience with their urinary tract, which includes the adrenal glands, bladder, kidneys, renal pelvis, urethra, and ureters. They also address issues that impact the male reproductive system. Medical cases requiring a consultation with a urologist may include cancers relating to the urinary tract, enlarged or inflamed prostate glands, erectile dysfunction, infertility, kidney disease and stones, UTIs, urinary incontinence, and overactive bladders.
Those who specialize in urology and practice as physicians in this specialty are referred to as urologists. Because there is such a range of medical conditions that urologists treat, the tasks these medical professionals must complete can vary daily. Urologists perform surgical procedures, take biopsies, and use scopes to remove malignancies.
For information on the steps required to become a urologist, and what to expect once you get your medical license, continue reading below!
After graduating from medical school, the next step to becoming a urologist is to complete a medical residency. While many residencies last just three years, a residency in urology lasts five years. The first two years of residency follow coursework regarding general surgery. It is not until this information is covered that urology residents will begin to learn about information regarding their specialty of choice.
According to the American Council for Graduate Medical Education, from 2018-2019, there were 1,333 urology residents. Of this population, just 48 individuals identified as international medical students. This makes urology a more competitive medical specialty for those with a degree from outside of the U.S.
Within the specialty of urology, there are two subspecialties. These include female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery and pediatric urology. Those looking to subspecialize will need to complete a one-year fellowship following their urology residency.
Practicing as a Urologist
During 2019, the median annual salary for urologists within the U.S. was $408,000. This is well above the average income for physicians across all medical specialties and subspecialties, which is currently just under $200,000. Despite this, 49%, or roughly ½, of urologists indicate feeling underpaid for the work they do.
One reason urologists may feel under-compensated is that they are underrepresented in medicine. Because there is a shortage of urologists, many work long hours and have a steady flow of patients. Those considering urology should keep this in mind as it may affect one’s ability to have a proper work-life balance.
Because the issues patients see urologists for are considered private in many cultures, urologists must have excellent patient communication skills. Keeping patients at ease can allow them to open up about issues, making it easier for the physician to make a diagnosis and determine a course of care that will be successful.
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