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Medical Education
Medical Student Education

Career Information: Urology

Specialty: Urology

Completed by: Anne Suskind, MD

Date completed: June 2015


  1. What can students do in the 1st and 2nd years to explore and/or prepare for this career?
    Since matching in urology is a highly competitive process, excellent performance in the basic science curriculum and high scores on USMLE Step 1 are both very important. Getting involved in a publishable research project and shadowing practicing urologists can also be helpful in understanding the field and getting exposure early on.
  2. What common variations exist in the length/content of residency programs for this career?
    Urology residencies are typically 5 or 6 years long. Most programs have at least 1 year of general surgery training (internship) and 4 years of urology residency. Some programs have an additional year of training that is typically for research. UCSF has 1 year of general surgery (PGY-1), 4 years of urology residency (PGY-2-4 and PGY-6), and 1 year of research (PGY-5).
  3. What common variations exist in this career after training?
    Urology offers a wide range of career choices. Some urologists begin practicing general urology immediately after completion of residency and others decide to pursue fellowship training (typically 1-2 additional years). Some examples of fellowships in urology include pediatrics, endourology, minimally invasive surgery, oncology, andrology and sexual medicine, female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, and male reconstruction, to name a few.
  4. What is a typical work day for someone in this field?
This will vary widely depending on specific career choices, but most urologists have their time divided between the office and operating room. Office time often includes seeing new and return patients and can also include several office-based procedures including cystoscopy, transrectal ultrasound guided prostate biopsies, imaging procedures, and urodynamics, to name a few.
  5. What is the culture of this career?
    Urologists have a reputation for being “happy” surgeons who enjoy a good quality of life. They are often strongly motivated individuals who enjoy both operating and longitudinal relationships with their patients.
  6. How compatible is this career with raising a family? How is this different for men and women?
 Many urologists, both men and women, have successful family lives. More women than ever are entering the field and many residencies are up to 50% women. Additionally, many residents, both men and women, have children during residency.
  7. What are the most important qualities or character traits for a person in this field?
    Motivation, hard work and passion are all important in the field of urology. Additionally, urologists typically enjoy operating and using emerging technologies in the operating room such as robotics, laparoscopy, and endoscopy.
  8. How competitive are the residency programs in this field?
Urology is one of the most competitive residencies to match into. The national match rate was 64% in 2014 and no residency positions went unmatched. Of note, urology is an early match: registration June-December, rank list deadline early January, match results released later in January.
  9. How competitive is the job market after residency?
    This, of course, depends on timing and on what type of position one is looking for. Overall, there is a shortage of urologists in the workplace, and the job market is quite favorable.
  10. What programs have been popular among UCSF applicants, or how should applicants go about considering programs?
We are happy to discuss this question in person.
  11. What resources (eg, websites, books, professional groups) would you recommend for students interested in learning more about this field?
    The American Urological Association is the governing body for urologists:
    Urology Match has excellent information about the application process: 
  12. How important is each the following for admission to a competitive program?
  Very important Somewhat important Not important
Extracurricular/volunteer work   x  
Research/publications x    
Honors in third year x    
AOA x    
Subinternship x    
Externship x    
Other: Performance on USMLE Step 1 x