Individuals who have a strong interest in caring for patients suffering from urological problems and conditions can find a good career as a urologist.
“A urologist is a physician specialized in diagnosing, treating and monitoring disorders of the urinary tract and reproductive organs, such as the ureters, kidneys, bladder, urethra and prostate,” says Dr. David E. Burday, MD, a board-certified urologist at Advanced Urology Institute.
“Urologists treat men and women for injuries and disorders of the urinary tract, pelvic floor muscle problems in women and male reproductive system disorders, but do not focus on female reproductive issues as those are handled by gynecologists,” he adds.
“The path to becoming a urologist is quite long,” says Dr. Burday. “You must have a four-year college degree and pass medical college admission tests before you are admitted into medical school. Then there are four years of training in subjects such as embryology, genetics, neuroscience, biochemistry and medical ethics followed by clinical rotations before you graduate from medical school.”
The next step is attending a urology residency, says Dr. Burday. “As a urology resident, you spend a minimum of five years in training, which may be divided into a two-year general surgery residency and a three-year urology residency.”
He adds, “You may spend another one or two years in a post-residency fellowship if you want to pursue a urology subspecialty like pediatric urology or urological oncology. But you must pass an exam after completing the requisite education and training requirements before you can become a board-certified urologist.”
Conditions Treated by Urologists
Urologists diagnose, treat and monitor a broad variety of medical problems, including recurrent urinary tract infections, interstitial cystitis, enlarged prostate, kidney stones, urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, prostatitis, erectile dysfunction, male and female infertility, and cancers of the urinary tract, such as prostate, testicular, kidney, penile and bladder cancers. They also handle pediatric problems such as undescended testicles and enuresis (bedwetting).
“As a urologist, you diagnose and treat many medical conditions,” says Dr. Burday. “We resolve urinary incontinence, weak pelvic floor muscles, recurrent bladder infections and prostate cancer. We also treat kidney stones, erectile dysfunction and male infertility. Some urologists may even narrow their focus into areas such as female urology, oncology urology and pediatric urology.”
In addition to medical history and physical examination, urologists may request tests such as ultrasound before they recommend any treatments. The urologist also may work with specialists such as radiation therapists, radiologists or oncologists to ensure patients get the best treatment.
“The diagnosis and treatment process depends on the condition the urologist is dealing with,” says Dr. Burday. “Typically, the urologist will do a medical history and physical exam then request a few tests before deciding on a suitable treatment. Often, the treatment will be medication, surgery, or both, but that depends on the condition.”
Urology is a challenging field that requires determination, patience, eye-hand coordination, critical thinking and good problem-solving skills. Urologists also need excellent communication skills and the ability to make their patients feel at ease and comfortable. They also must be able to work under stress and make effective decisions in emergency situations.
“If you have the right qualities and the desire to improve people’s lives by treating urological problems, then urology is a wonderful profession for you,” says Dr. Burday. “Remember there are many job opportunities for urologists and the pay is above average.”
For more information on urology, visit the site Advanced Urology Institute.