Urologist Job Description:
As an urologist, I diagnose urological conditions, and if needed, also perform surgery when medically necessary. I treat adults and children.
How did you become an urologist?
I was going to college and halfway through school I decided to quit and join the airline industry and I became an airline stewardess. Then I got married, and at that time, you could not be an airline stewardess and be married, so I had to quit, and I moved back to California. I completed my bachelors’ degree in biology and physical education. Then I became a high school teacher. I taught mostly science-related courses.
Once I had been teaching for six years, I started taking a microbiology course after work just because I needed something more interesting to do. After I was done taking my final test, this was a pivotal moment in my life, the teacher says to me, “Okay, Sherry when are you going to get on with your life?” I looked at her and said, “Well, oh, I didn’t realize I was in a hurry to do that.”
And she said, “You need to be an MD, but how old are you?” I said I was 27 and she said “Oh, you’re much too old. You’ll never be able to get into medical school.” Also, at this time, they rarely took women in medical school. The percentage of women in the country in medical school back then was 15 percent; it’s 50 percent now. I went home that night and decided I wanted to go to medical school. By the time I took all the required classes and got into medical school, I had just turned 30, so I was much older than most of my classmates.
My high school kids went through the process with me. So when I got accepted into medical school it was like a day off from school! It was really fun and it was really a modeling lesson for kids that you couldn’t teach any other way: “You’re never too old to make up your mind to do something you want to do, work hard and go do it. Many parents told me how inspiring it was.
How did you decide to become an urologist?
I considered all the surgical specialties and I knew I wasn’t someone who wanted to be up all night on call for trauma. It turned out that I had a wonderful mentor in urology and told him, “I really love urology, but there are no women in it and I don’t see myself as the pioneer and trailblazer and I don’t want to fight a lot of uphill battles to do this.” He said, “No, no, it's time for women in urology. We are way behind the times, you’d be ideal."
What do you like about being an urologist?
I like that urology is a specialty that is a combination of medical treatments - so you have patients that are long term patients, as opposed to other surgical specialties where you operate on their appendix and you never see them again. There are also wonderful diagnostic tools in urology when you almost always know precisely what you’re doing when you go and operate on someone, which fits my personality.
As an urologist, can you recall some memorable moments?
I certainly have had a lot of wonderful things happen, relationships with patients that have been very rewarding. When patients share with me any impact I have had on their lives in some way; that is the most exciting part of the job. You’re really doing something that you believe in and then you get the feedback, it’s nice to get the feedback from people and they’re grateful.
When it comes to different doctor salaries, what is the salary of someone who specializes in urology?
Doctor salaries of urologists have gone up pretty nicely, so out of residency, I think HMOs are offering 250K for a starting salary. But, if you go to an HMO, where you get a salary, there is usually a cap. One of my partners was working at the Mayo Clinic and I believe that the cap on his doctor salary was 350K.
In private practice, depending on how good you are and how many surgical techniques you’ve got that are sought after, you can make a lot more money if you want to be an entrepreneur. The limits are kinda off - that doctor salary could be well over 500K a year, but not everyone can do that. In private practice, after a long time, the median range for doctors' salaries is probably around 350K, maybe up to 500K depending on the volume and area you are in.
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