Trying to figure out what kind of doctor you should become? Wondering which specialty you should choose? Then SheMD's Why Specialty Series is perfect for you! We're bringing you female physicians sharing WHY they chose their specialty. Today's post is on why Dr. Malik chose the field of urology and why urology is a great field.
“You’re a Urologist??!?!?!?”
I’ll never forget the time I told a family friend my occupation and he literally laughed in my face. But it didn’t bother me because, in my opinion, being a urologist is by far the most interesting, enjoyable, and satisfying career I could have chosen and here are my top five reasons why.
As a urologist I have a hybrid practice. I see patients in clinic and do clinic-based procedures like urodynamics, cystoscopy, intravesical botox injections and urethral bulking agents. I do some general urology which includes endoscopic surgery like transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) and ureteroscopy for kidney stones as well as major abdominal and perineal surgeries. Some of these include robotic or vaginal prolapse repair, urethroplasty for urethral strictures and cystectomy with urinary diversion for neurogenic bladder. I’m NEVER bored. Each day brings a new and exciting challenge and along with it an opportunity to make a huge impact on people's lives.
This is just a small snippet of the multitude of things urologists are capable of doing. As a specialist in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery my practice is highly skewed towards a specific type of patient. However, urologists take care of anything that impacts the urinary tract.
Just to give you an idea of the variety here is a list of things you can treat once you complete your urology residency:
Cancers of the kidney, ureters, bladder, prostate, testicles, and penis
Kidney and Ureteral stones
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
Urogenital reconstruction to fix abnormal ureters, bladders, and urethras.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pediatric urologic conditions such as vesicoureteral reflux and congenital anomalies
Neurogenic Bladder (patients with neurologic conditions like spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson's disease, with associated bladder problems)
Moreover, we are essential in urgent cases like urinary obstruction with infection that can be easily treated with ureteral stents and SAVE lives. We have the ability to make people get better quickly and get results rapidly.
The best part is as a urologist you can do a little bit of everything or subspecialize in what excites you the most but either way the opportunities are endless and you can customize your practice to fit what you want. You can have a heavy surgical practice or a majority clinical and procedural based practice.
Urology is also a highly innovative field. Anecdotally, we tend to have a lot of interest from medical students with backgrounds in engineering as we use a lot of “toys” like lasers and robots for our surgeries. As a subspecialty, we tend to push the boundaries with inventions. Every year I see new devices being trialed or techniques being tested to improve the way we care for patients.
2. Genuine patient-physician relationships
“I held off for years before I finally came into see you because I was embarrassed.”
I have heard variations on this comment from my patients for years. Urology is the kind of specialty where you take care of patients’ most intimate problems. They come to you and share stories with you that are private, heartbreaking, and even jaw-dropping at times. As a urologist I’ve been able to improve their quality of life dramatically and take their most intolerable pains away. The ability to empower patients to live their life without the fear of embarrassment is remarkable. I’m passionate about women’s health and I get to take care of women with their most private problems including incontinence, prolapse, sexual dysfunction and more. These women spend years of their lives taking care of their families and everyone else around them before they finally see me. Now for the first time, I get a chance to take care of them. There is nothing more satisfying.
3. Wealth of job opportunities
Based on the American Urological Association (AUA) census data and projections of urologist-to-population ratio1, there is a shortage of urologists to meet the urologic needs of our aging population. While the AUA and AMA have ongoing efforts to address this shortage it means that there are an abundance of opportunities available for urologists to work nearly anywhere in the United States.
4. Urologists are my tribe
As a medical student the running joke we used to hear was “I mean how seriously can you take yourself when you take care of genitalia all day?”
While urologists take care of many serious conditions, this is generally true. Urologist are mostly humorous, good-natured individuals who are serious and hardworking, but know how to relax and have a good time. My advice to all medical students is to find your tribe. Most specialties have a personality type that gravitate towards it. You want your colleagues to be people whose company you enjoy and your mentors to be people who you like working with and learning from. Ultimately, these people will become your lifelong friends and support system.
5. Women in Urology are AMAZING
Women in urology make up approximately 9% of practicing urologists and 26% of trainee urologists. In training, I had some amazing female senior and junior residents but really didn’t have a huge exposure to women in the field. I remember going to my first Society of Women in Urology meeting and being overwhelmed by the support, success, and ambition of these exceptional women. Not only are they good people, but they are hard workers with a passion for both what they do and for raising up the women around them. I have yet to meet a single female in urology who I’ve felt “competitive” against or felt was unapproachable.
For more information, take a look at Dr. Malik’s website- www.renamalikmd.com