Becoming a Urologist With Dr. David Wilkinson

In Blog, Panama City, FL, Videos

Caring for people who are really unwell and improving the quality of lives of people with embarrassing and dehumanizing conditions is a worthy course — it’s what attracted me to urology. As urologists, we diagnose and treat disorders of the genitourinary tract, such as kidney stones, pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, enlarged prostate, kidney stones, erectile dysfunction, male infertility, genitourinary tract injuries and urologic cancers. Because of the nature and location of these conditions, patients often come to us feeling humiliated, troubled and hopeless. And it’s our job not only to cure their ailments, but also to restore optimism, confidence and vigor to their lives.

My Path to Urology

I am a first generation doctor, which means that nobody else in my family has been a doctor. My dad is a ceramic engineer, my mom a high school math teacher and my elder brother a senior manager in a company. Growing up in Ohio, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my dad and become an engineer. I often visited him at his workplace and loved how they worked and the life they lived. So when I went to Ohio State University, I opted for an undergraduate degree in Allied Health Professions with the hope that it would help me fulfill my engineering dreams. And eventually, I became a respiratory therapist.

Working as a respiratory therapist, I established a good rapport with doctors and other healthcare professionals. During my work as a respiratory therapist one of my attending doctors found me explaining things to patients — the things I realized that patients didn’t understand properly during ward rounds. After listening to the information I was providing to the patients, he concluded that I would have been even more helpful to the patients if I were a doctor. So he called me, said he liked what I was doing and advised me to consider going to medical school.

That inspired me a lot and I soon embarked on the journey to become a doctor. I went to Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton, where I graduated with honors. Then I moved to the University of Kentucky’s Albert B. Chandler Medical Center in Lexington for my urologic surgery training. During my surgical and urology residency, I took special interest in robotic surgery, laparoscopic surgery and minimally-invasive treatment of prostatic diseases and honed my skills in performing complex surgical procedures using some of the latest technologies, particularly in da Vinci robotic prostatectomy and other applications of the da Vinci surgical system.

Broad, exciting field with great outcomes for patients

Urology is an exciting specialty with a good mix of medicine and surgery. As a urologist, you can operate on patients and at the same time make follow-ups with them if they have issues that bring them back. It’s amazing the huge variety of problems you get to tackle and the long-term relationships you are able to develop with the patients. We solve issues for the entire age spectrum, from newborns to seniors. We get the opportunity to treat children and fix congenital problems, as well as care for people in their later years when urologic problems are quite common. We also delve into the emotional issues of our patients, providing support and solutions with our empathy.

As urologists, we’re fortunate that most of the issues we deal with are almost always clearly defined. A good example is when patients present with complaints of incontinence or hematuria and we are able to quickly pinpoint the underlying cause and provide an effective solution. It’s an area of medicine that’s not ill-defined or amorphous, or where solutions are unclear, but one where many, if not most, problems can be solved. Unlike some specialties, such as neurology and oncology, most of our patients get better and enjoy improved quality of life after interacting with us.

Urology offers deep satisfaction because you generally will see positive results with most cases. For instance, a lot of people who come to you with urological cancers — bladder, prostate or kidney cancers — often get great outcomes. You are able to operate on people and see the quality of their lives improve quickly. Even men with embarrassing conditions such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction are guaranteed normal life after seeing a urologist. That’s why most of our patients are so grateful for the services we offer and hold urologists in very high esteem. And because we almost always achieve excellent outcomes, we find deep gratification in our job.

Nature of the job

As a urologist, you diagnose and treat as well as prevent benign and malignant surgical and medical disorders of the genitourinary system and renal glands. We routinely see men with erectile dysfunction, recurrent urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence and enlarged prostate. Apart from vasectomies, there are also surgeries and issues to manage around the balls, such as urinary stones, testicular pain, urethral strictures and urological cancers. We review and document patient histories, direct the work of residents, nurses and the staff providing care, administer or prescribe antibiotics, compresses or antiseptics to treat injury or infection, and offer urology consultation to physicians and other healthcare professionals.

The disorders may be treated using various alternatives to traditional surgery, like laparoscopy, laser techniques and extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy. We frequently perform pelvic, abdominal or retroperitoneal surgeries and cryotherapy, brachytherapy, photodynamic therapy and high-intensity focused ultrasound to treat urological cancers. We may use equipment such as radium emanation tubes, cystoscopes, catheters and diathermy machines, prescribe medications for treating infertility, ejaculation problems or erectile dysfunction, and use advanced technology such as the da Vinci robotic system for various procedures. The most important thing is that we have to think through and choose the most appropriate procedures for each patient, always looking for the best possible outcome.

Job satisfaction

As in other medical fields, urology has its challenges — from grueling schooling, tough work schedule to the high pressure that comes with emergencies. But urology is not a field to choose if you don’t like surgery. The surgical training is quite rigorous, with most programs lasting 5-6 years and running from early mornings to late evenings. However, if you love your job and commit to persevere through hardships then you’ll find urology a deeply exciting, intriguing and gratifying specialty.

For me, my love and commitment to urology is driven by an innate passion to serve people and improve their lives. The thrill and satisfaction that comes with seeing really sick people get well is something that encourages me and keeps me going even in the most challenging situations. I also really enjoy the great balance of surgery and medicine offered by urology, and love the fact that there are also fewer emergencies and a nicer lifestyle. The field is quite flexible and you can choose the extent to which you can be busy each day. The call schedule is also more manageable compared to what general surgeons, orthopedic surgeons or obstetricians have to deal with.

Why Advanced Urology Institute?

At AUI, both the work environment and colleagues are an inspiration to do our work well and give the best for our patients each day. Though it’s stereotypical to say that urologists are fun, down-to-earth and happy surgeons, that’s really true, especially here. You’ll never meet a urologist here at AUI who doesn’t have a good joke or cute story to share with colleagues and patients. Probably that’s why this place is often buzzing and warm and our patients are happy and satisfied with our services.

There are also opportunities for innovation, research and career advancement. At AUI, we are always collaborating with other skilled, experienced and certified specialists to improve our capacity to deliver the best possible care. The latest surgical and medical equipment is brought in and integrated as soon as it is available and internally there is a continuous effort to improve the devices and techniques used to treat urologic conditions. We are not only focused on treating urological conditions with more comfort and less pain for the patients, but also to be always on top of the machines, technology and techniques.

For more information on urological disorders and the top-notch services offered at AUI, visit the Advanced Urology Institute site.

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