Last Updated: 04/03/15
Urology Career Guide
Urologists are physicians who diagnose, treat and manage acquired and congenital conditions of the genitourinary system as well as the structures that support it and the adrenal gland. Conditions treated by a urologists can be present in the kidneys, uterus, urethra, urinary bladder or any of the male reproductive organs. These physicians are specially trained in both medical and surgical treatments as well as percutaneous, endoscopic and other minimally invasive techniques. Urologists are also sometimes called genitourinary surgeon because surgery is a common form of treatment for the disorders they diagnose or get referrals for. Like other medical specialties, you can choose to sub-specialize in your practice of urology. The sub-specialties in urology are pediatric and female pelvic medicine.
Most urologists work approximately 45 to 50 hours a week with a small percentage working more than 65 hours per week. How many hours you work will depend on what type of facility you work in. As a urologist you can work in a hospital, clinic, university medical center or private practice. Those who work in hospitals tend to have less flexibility with their hours and may have to spend a portion of their time on-call. In a hospital you might work more weekends or nights than you would if you worked in a clinic or private practice where you are more likely to be able to set your own hours and work regular office hours.
In a 2012 Medscape survey on physician lifestyles, physicians in 26 specialties were asked to rate their happiness in their lives outside of work on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the happiest. Urologists rated their happiness higher than the overall average of all physicians with a score of 4.04, which ranked them as the third happiest physicians, after dermatologists and rheumatologists.
Urology Training Requirements:
The residency training for urologists is five years, the first one to two years of most urology residency programs is focused on general surgery and can require up to 80 hours of work every week and often includes nights and weekends. If you choose to sub-specialize in one of the two sub-specialties mentioned above, you will have to complete an additional year of training. Before you can legally practice in the U.S., you will have to pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
Urology is among the five highest-paying specialties in medicine. In a 2010 physician compensation survey published by Modern Healthcare, it was reported that the annual salary for urologists ranged from $331,192 to $443,518. In a Medscape survey published in the same year, urologists reported a median compensation of $305,000. The Medscape survey also found that 16% of urologists earned from $300,000 to $349,999 and14% earned over $500,000.
Urology Job Outlook:
The outlook for urologists, is like all other physicians and surgeons, very good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released their projections from now until 2018, which shows a 22% increase in job growth for the medical field. This increase is especially true for urologists as the baby boom generation is quickly approaching retirement age and a large percentage of that generation will more than likely need the expertise and treatments that urologists can provide.