A urologist is a type of medical doctor who has specialized training and knowledge in diagnosing and treating problems related to the urinary tract in both males and females of all ages. He or she is also skilled at treating sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Due to the fact that this area of medicine encompasses a variety of clinical conditions, a urologist must have extensive knowledge of internal medicine, gynecology, pediatrics and a selection of other specialties. The word urology comes from a Greek word that means “the study of urine.” Urology is considered to be a surgical subspecialty. Another name for such a doctor is a urological surgeon.
Within the field of urology, there are a number of specialties that these doctors can choose to work in. According to the American Urological Association (AUA) there are eight areas of subspecialty. These include:
- Pediatric urology
- Urologic oncology (tumors)
- Female urology
- Urinary tract stones
- Male infertility
- Erectile dysfunction (impotence)
- Renal transplantation
In order to become certified by the American Board of Urology, the physician must fulfill both educational requirements as well as specific examination ones. Those who wish to work in this specialty area of medicine must first graduate from an approved medical school.
The next step is to complete a urology program that has been given the stamp of approval by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). This program must be for a minimum of five years. Of those five years one must be devoted to general surgery while three must be devoted to clinical urology. As well, a minimum of six months must be spent receiving additional training in urology, general surgery or another clinical discipline that relates to this area. The final year that the physician spends in the residency program will see the individual working as a chief resident or senior urology resident while under the supervision of an attending physician.
Once the person has finished their graduate education they are then able to apply for their certification by way of the American Board of Urology (ABU). Once the application has been approved by the Board the person then enters the process of certification. During this process it is necessary to complete and pass a qualifying exam which is Part I before moving onto Part II which is the subsequent certifying exam.
A urologist may diagnose and treat any number of conditions. He or she is likely to treat patients of both sexes and of varying ages on a routine basis. Some of the problems may be unique to young patients and not so common in adults, and vice versa. A child may be seen for a neonatal urological condition such as ambiguous genitalia, bladder exstrophy or cloacal exstrophy (which is common in those born with spina bifida), as well as testicular torsion. Many parents take their child to such a urologist for bedwetting problems. This condition is known medically as enuresis.
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