Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Urology

Curriculum

PGY 1 - Internship Year

The intern year consists of four 1-month General Surgery rotations, including a surgical apprenticeship, night float, and two months of surgical intensive care. During these rotations, broad experience is gained in laparoscopy and endoscopy, with some exposure to open abdominal surgery. 

Interns spend the remaining 8 months on the urology service: three months in the Department of Urology at the Jesse Brown Veterans' Administration Hospital; two months on the Northwestern Memorial Hospital urology consult service; and three months in the Department of Pediatric Urology at  Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. During this first year, the intern learns the essentials of patient management as well as basics in surgical technique. This is a very comprehensive year, providing excellent foundation for future clinical years.

At Lurie Children’s Hospital, the intern learns the fundamentals of pediatric urology and the common conditions treated by pediatric urologists. S/he functions as an integral member of the team, reporting to the chief urology resident and working directly with pediatric urology faculty. The resident participates as a first assist in surgery, has inpatient responsibilities, and is introduced to clinical management of pediatric urologic patients. During this rotation, the intern is the junior resident, working alongside third year urology residents from Northwestern, Loyola University Medical Center, University of Illinois, and Rush University. The resident works with eight full-time pediatric urologists, and the combination of operative and clinical experience is excellent. This is a tertiary care children's medical center, and there is an abundance of interesting and challenging urologic cases.

The Northwestern Urology consult resident acts as a liaison to the emergency room and inpatient services. They are the initial evaluator of all hospital urologic consultations and work independently with the urology faculty to formulate a diagnostic and treatment plan. This arrangement provides a one-on-one experience with the attending for the consult resident. If operative procedure is indicated, this resident is expected to act as first assistant in order to provide continuity of care. During this rotation, the resident is also first assist in scheduled urologic cases, providing for an early foundation in both endoscopic and open surgery.

At the Jesse Brown VA, the intern role is primarily to manage a busy procedure clinic, performing 10+ procedures (primarily prostate biopsies and cystoscopic evaluations) per day. They also play an integral role in running the inpatient urology service and will also participate in operative cases.

PGY 2 

During the second year, the urology resident concludes their general surgery rotations with a month on transplant surgery and a month of nights managing the surgical intensive care unit. These experiences allow for opportunity to manage transplant recipients, trauma victims and critically ill patients with more autonomy. The PGY2 urology residents also have the opportunity to participate in two months of electives chosen and designed by the residents based on their interests and educational needs, as part of the new pilot curriculum program. With the direction of the urology program director, residents are encouraged to work with faculty at any of the McGaw institutions. In past years, residents have elected to rotate on plastic surgery, radiology, pathology, nephrology, colorectal surgery, perioperative medicine, and urogynecology. These four months off-service lay a solid foundation for managing complex patients and provide a well-balanced background to "hit the ground running" for the remaining years dedicated solely to urology.

The PGY2 residents spend three months at Northwestern Memorial Hospital department of urology, one month on the Northwestern Memorial Hospital urology consult service, and three months at the VA urology service. During these five months, residents are allocated increasing operative responsibility and begin to function autonomously in both endoscopic and basic open surgery. They also spend one month rotating through the various outpatient urology clinics at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, learning the principles of clinic-based practice.

PGY 3

The PGY3 clinical year is comprised of rotations at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital academic services, Lurie Children's Hospital, and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

The PGY3 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital learns the basics of urologic reconstruction, urologic oncology, infertility, erectile dysfunction, and female urology. The resident rounds on patients daily with a chief resident and is an integral part of the patient care team. S/he also acts as first assistant on minor and major operative procedures.

One third of this year is spent at the Veterans' Administration as a junior resident. The PGY3 resident at the Veterans' Administration focuses strongly on learning and mastering urological surgery. They assist the chief resident on major urological procedures and act as surgeon on minor operative procedures under the supervision of the attending surgeon. S/he also acts as an integral member of the patient care team. This rotation provides a more independent patient care experience than other rotations and is a unique opportunity for continuity of patient care.

PGY 4 - Lab Year

All residents spend a full year performing research under the supervision of a Northwestern University faculty member. The faculty member is chosen by the resident based upon his/her research interests. Although the research mentor is typically a faculty member in the Department of Urology, this is not a requirement.

During the lab year, the residents have limited clinical responsibilities, consisting of one full day of Northwestern Memorial Hospital clinical responsibility per three weeks. The majority of their time and efforts are focused on urologic research. The decreased clinical responsibility during the lab year provides opportunity to partake in other learning opportunities not afforded in the other years.

Visit the Resident Research section of our Areas of Research page for examples of how our current residents are spending their lab years.

PGY 5 

Residents in the fifth clinical urology year have senior resident responsibilities. In other words, they are the most senior resident on all rotations and therefore they assist with all major operative procedures and make supervised day-to-day management decisions on the inpatients.

Four months are spent at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The goal of these rotations reflect a focus on assessing the resident’s pre-operative preparation, surgical skills, and surgical decision-making. Two of these months are spent as a surgical apprenticeship to one of our senior physicians with a focus on the open surgical management of prostate cancer.

Four months in this clinical year are spent at the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County. This rotation provides high level responsibility in all areas of general urology. Responsibilities, while entirely supervised by attending faculty, are broadened as the patient numbers are significant and the residents are depended on to provide an important aspect of patient care. The resident is one of the more senior residents on the urology team, which also includes residents from the Cook County Urology residency program. The residents work as an integrated team, providing both inpatient and outpatient urology care to a varied patient population, often with urological problems unique to a largely indigent and immigrant population, such as rare infections, advanced cancers, and complex trauma. This rotation truly broadens the residents’ exposure to populations and disease states and conditions not often seen at any other of our participating institutions.

The PGY5 also has additional elective rotations, including the opportunity to travel off-site for both domestic and international rotations to encourage unique opportunities to work with other experts in urology and to explore global urologic care. 

PGY 6 - Chief Year

PGY-6 residents function as chief resident on all rotations during their final year of residency. Rotations on the Northwestern Memorial Hospital services allow them to focus on specific areas of urology in which they have a particular interest or in which they feel a knowledge deficit. 

During the Northwestern Memorial Hospital rotations, the PGY6 learns advanced skills in the areas of urologic oncology, laparoscopic and robotic surgery, reconstruction, female urology, and endourology. S/he is responsible for the day-to-day care of the inpatient service and has half-day per week responsibility in an attending surgeon’s outpatient clinic. The chief also has an independent resident clinic (overseen by an attending faculty member) in which outpatient care plans are determined and implemented by the chief resident. S/he provides continuity of care for patients in this clinic and is involved in any operative procedures related to these patients. 

The Veterans’ Administration PGY6 rotation provides chief-level responsibility in all areas of general urology. The residents' responsibilities, while supervised by attending faculty, are broadened as s/he takes on the added responsibilities of operative case scheduling, review of operative indications (including making changes when necessary), and oversight of junior residents at that facility. In this role, they also serve as the primary surgeon on all major urologic cases with supervision by attending faculty. In conjunction with an attending physician, they also oversee junior residents during outpatient clinic. This clinical responsibility is unique to this rotation in the outpatient setting. The chief resident also defines junior resident clinical responsibilities and delegates daily work schedule. The 4-month Veterans' Administration rotation provides an increased level of independence which is valuable in the transition from residency to practice.