Urologists are medical doctors who focus on the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions that affect the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. They commonly treat a variety of health issues related to reproductive health as well, such as infertility and erectile dysfunction.
Urologists commonly use a combination of surgical and nonsurgical treatments to help their patients. This may include prescribing medications or performing procedures such as cystoscopies, vasectomies, kidney stone removal surgery, prostate surgeries, etc. They also commonly take an active role in educating patients about their conditions to help them better manage their health moving forward.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a urologist and what it takes to become one yourself.
Urologist Job Duties
The typical urologist does the following:
- Performing diagnostic tests such as cystoscopies and urodynamics to determine the location, cause, and treatment of urinary tract problems
- Determining whether a problem is caused by an infection or other disease process that requires further evaluation
- Explaining medical issues related to the different parts of the urinary tract, including kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra
- Treating benign conditions such as kidney stones with shockwave lithotripsy or minimally invasive procedures such as percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) or endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
- Diagnosing prostate cancer using biopsies and imaging methods such as transrectal ultrasound (TRUS), MRI scans, computer tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans
- Prescribing medications such as antibiotics and hormone therapy for patients with cysts or other noncancerous conditions
- Performing surgery on patients with cancerous tumors or infections in order to remove their prostates altogether while maintaining normal urination function
Urologist Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for urologists is $327,604. The top earners in the profession make more than $626,000 per year. Those earning higher wages tend to work in the metropolitan areas of large cities.
The employment of urologists is expected to grow steadily over the next decade. As the population grows and ages, more and more people will develop conditions that require the care of a urologist.
Urologist Job Requirements
Urologists are required to have the following:
Education: A urologist should earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree from an accredited program. While studying to become a physician, urologists take courses in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and pathophysiology. They also complete clinical training in a variety of healthcare settings where they gain experience managing patients with kidney, bladder and prostate issues.
Training: Once they have their degrees, urologists then need to complete residency training in urology at an accredited institution. These programs last three to seven years and give doctors practical training as part of a team, as well as guided instruction from teachers or mentors. They will rotate in various settings in hospitals.
Certifications & Licenses: After completing their residencies, urologists must pass the examinations for certification by the American Board of Urology. They must also become licensed by the state in which they plan to practice.
Urologists should have the following skills:
Excellent diagnostic skills: Urologists must be able to diagnose a variety of conditions and diseases in order to recommend appropriate treatment.
Physical stamina: The job requires long hours and frequent travel. Urologists must be able to perform well despite physical fatigue.
Detail oriented: Because many diseases affecting the urinary tract can be very serious, urologists must be able to pay close attention to detail when diagnosing patients.
Good communication skills: This is an important skill for a urologist because he or she will need to communicate with patients, nurses, and other doctors in order to do his or her job well. A urologist must also be able to communicate well with his or her patients in order to educate them about their health issues.
Nerves of steel: An ability to handle pressure and looming deadlines can be crucial in some specialties that involve a great deal of litigation.
Strong research and writing skills: These skills are necessary for drafting pleadings, research memorandums, correspondence, and other documents.
Urologist Work Environment
Urologists in private practice usually work regular business hours in an office with other urologists, medical assistants, and administrative staff. Urologists who work at hospitals generally report to the chief of surgery or another department head on a daily basis. They may also provide care for patients in outpatient clinics with trained nursing professionals providing additional support.
Urologists spend some of their time sitting when seeing patients, but they must be prepared to move around during surgical procedures. Most urologists are on their feet most or all of the time performing routine examinations, minor surgeries, and testing postoperative patients.
The job can be stressful due to the sensitivity of the subject matter that urologists deal with daily. The position requires long hours on some days, especially when surgery is required. As such, urologists need to maintain good physical stamina.
Urologist Career Advancement
After becoming a urologist, the most important factor in determining your next steps is your area of focus. Some urologists choose to run their own private practice in which they offer the full array of urologic services. Others choose to specialize in a certain area, such as kidney dialysis or cancer treatment. Specializing in a certain area will make you a more valuable resource for patients. This can increase your reputation and make patients more likely to refer you to their family and friends.
You can also advance to a leadership role. This entails taking on a greater responsibility for your practice. You could work as a medical director of a large clinic or as a private practice consultant.
Here are three trends influencing how urologists work. Urologists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Increased Focus on Patient Education
Due to the increasing amount of information available online, patients are more educated about their health than ever before. As a result, they have higher expectations for doctors, and will increasingly expect more from their visits with them.
In order to meet these heightened expectations, urologists will need to focus on providing an experience that focuses on education and understanding rather than just a “get in and get out” kind of visit.
Improved Testosterone Treatment
Testosterone replacement therapy is becoming more accessible and effective than ever, with the introduction of new products such as topical gels and other testosterone therapies that provide men with an alternative to traditional pills.
This has led to a growth in demand for urologists who specialize in hormone replacement therapy, which will likely lead to an increase in this specialty.
Increasing Prevalence of Obesity
Over the past few decades, obesity has risen dramatically among children and adults in America. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that over 1/3 of adults and 1/5 of children are obese.
This trend is likely to continue as obesity leads to a number of other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. These conditions can lead to increased instances of cancer.
How to Become a Urologist
1. Planning Your Career Path
If you’re thinking about a career as a urologist, it’s important to understand the educational requirements for this position. This includes completing four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school, and three to seven years of residency training.
While many people pursue this path because they are passionate about helping others, it is also important to consider the financial rewards that come with this role; for example, physicians in the United States earn an annual salary that typically ranges between $200,000 and $400,000 (not including bonuses or other incentives). Additionally, there are many ways to reduce the financial burden associated with becoming a physician; for example, some medical students receive assistance from government-sponsored loan programs.
2. Writing a Resume
A great resume for urologists should highlight their medical skills and overall commitment to patient care. Since urology focuses on the urinary tract, it’s important to emphasize your experience related to this area. You may want to list any volunteer work that you have done in this area or academic programs that you completed, such as research projects. Detail any special qualifications that are relevant to the position such as board certification or medical licensure.
It’s also important that your resume demonstrate your leadership skills, as most urologists manage or lead other healthcare professionals (such as nurses or technicians).
3. Applying for Jobs
As a urologist, your job-hunting process will likely begin with networking and social media. Take the time to meet potential hiring managers at conferences and reach out to others who work in the field via LinkedIn and other social networks. It’s also a good idea to get involved with community events and volunteer organizations.
Think about how you can tailor your resume and cover letter to fit the position you’re applying for; this is especially important if you’re reaching out to smaller hospitals or clinics that may not have set processes for candidate selection.
4. Ace the Interview
You should be able to answer questions about your past work experiences and how that relates to the job. If you know they are looking for a urologist who works well in a team-oriented environment, then demonstrate your interpersonal skills by discussing a time when you had to deal with a difficult colleague or patient. Be prepared for questions about complications that could occur during surgery, such as infection or bleeding.
It is also important to think of questions you would like to ask the interviewer. This shows that you care about the job and can think on your feet. Ask them what qualities they most look for in a candidate, and try to make sure that your answers demonstrate those qualities. When you are asked a question during the interview, use concrete examples from your past experience as a physician. Explain how these experiences have shaped your desire to apply for this specific role and have prepared you for it.