Becoming a Urologist with Dr. Michael Szostak

In Blog, Safety Harbor, FL, Videos

Urology is an exciting, intriguing and rewarding medical specialty. As a urologist, you encounter a wider variety of conditions compared to those encountered in other fields such as general surgery. You also deal with a broad spectrum of different issues, ranging from simple to serious and life-threatening ones and everything in between. There is also a broad range of surgeries to challenge those who would like to perform operations — ranging from microsurgery to highly complex cases with extensive reconstruction. For those who are into technology, urology stands at the forefront of new technologies and modalities, including robot-assisted procedures and laser techniques for ureteral stones.

Why urology?

My passion for medicine is somewhat natural. In fact, growing up, I just had it in me to become a doctor. Even as a 10-year-old, it was something I often discussed with my parents as a career I looked forward to with excitement and longing. So being a urologist was just a natural progression for me, a realization of my childhood dream. When I completed my undergraduate studies at University at Albany in 1992, I had made up my mind to become a doctor — a pediatrician to be precise. But at the completion of my medical education I had changed my mind and was interested in a field that would offer me a great balance of medicine and surgery.

Path to urology

I completed my medical education at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. By that time I still did not know much about urology. In fact, the first time urology was suggested to me, I refused — I never wanted to be in a field with tedious prostate exams. But there is a lot in urology that most people don’t know, even those in medical school.

I never wanted to be a urologist until I truly experienced it. That was during my residency training at University of Maryland’s Baltimore Medical Center, where after two weeks of surgical and urology rotation, I realized that urology was really interesting. That’s when I made the decision to be a urologist. My residency program at Baltimore Medical Center included stints at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Baltimore V.A. Hospital, equipping me with the skills, knowledge and experiences to appreciate and love urology.

Unique, fascinating specialty

Urology is a great mix of medicine and surgery, just like EENT (specializing in Eye, Ears, Nose and Throat). As a urologist, you build that surgeon mentality of dealing and fixing problems rapidly and decisively, and know when to and when not to perform operations on people. You also develop a little bit of that family doctor mentality of dealing with people by building a rapport with your patients, establishing some trust and working with them over a long period of time. You also care for both kids and adults, men and women.

You treat a lot of kidney stones and handle several nephrology cases where you deal with people who are tinkering with medications and diet. You also see patients with acute issues and general urology issues like trouble urinating, prostate issues, urinary tract infections, blood in urine, and other urinary complaints. You tackle complaints or pain related to the testicles or penis, such as pain in the genitals, trouble with the foreskin, swelling and pain of the testicles.

It’s a multi-year relationship with patients, where you go from doing basic care to operating on them, solving their issues over time or when they have other urologic problems that develop over time. At AUI, I have enjoyed general urology procedures and also helped patients with male incontinence and erectile dysfunction. And because of my special interest, training and experience with advanced medical technology, I routinely engage in laparoscopic, minimally-invasive and robot-assisted surgical procedures.

Job satisfaction

What I like most about urology is the opportunity to make a mark in people’s lives. It’s quite satisfying to see patients come to me when really feeling unwell and then to get them back to normal health. I also enjoy a good work-life balance as a urologist. Urology calls are never horrendous. In fact, most of the issues can be tackled by emergency room physicians or through some basic techniques performed by other healthcare professionals. And even if you are called, there are issues you can deal with just over the phone or those to be dealt with are straightforward. It’s not like calls in other areas where a lot of operations and treatment are done even in the middle of the night. For instance, I take all my vacations, enjoy going to medical meetings while allowing me to get away from work and find enough time to relax and be with my family.

Urology is a very rewarding job. People come to you with various surgical and medical problems that you can help solve. There is a lot that you do, finding the source of their issues and fixing the problems. Urology is a great discipline that’s focused on the lower and upper urinary tracts of males and females, together with the male reproductive tracts.If I had to start all over again, I would still have picked urology as the field that suits me very well.

Why Advanced Urology Institute?

At Advanced Urology Institute, the people you work with share similar traits, including having a good sense of humor, being collegial and jovial, and enjoying a healthier work-life-balance. That has made working at AUI fun and enriching. Because of the nature of the issues we are dealing with — we have to approach matters of sex lives and genitals with a little sense of humor — the work is less stressful compared to other specialties. But at AUI, we also have all the tools and time we need to attend effectively to our patients. We are always happy about what we can do for our patients and the results we are achieving for them. For me, it has been a wonderful 16 years of practice in Florida, which has included local prostate cancer screenings, educational seminars, multiple journal publications, academic presentations on erectile dysfunction and prostate cancer, and improvement of the lives of many patients.

For more information on the urological services provided at AUI, visit the “Advanced Urology Institute” site.

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