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"Urology is a surgical subspecialty focusing on the urinary tract of men and women, as well as the reproductive system of men. …Urologists are masters of everything that has to do with the passage of urine, from its production in the kidney to its release through the urethra. They surgically correct problems such as obstructing posterior urethral valves in newborn boys or bladder outlet obstruction caused by benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) in elderly men. Urinary tract infections (UTIs), which affect every age group and can be quite destructive, make up a large proportion of cases seen by urologists, especially if it progresses to a worrisome infection of the kidney itself (pyelonephritis).”

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 467.

M1 and M2 Students

 What advice would you offer first- and second-year students who are interested in pursuing your specialty?

Carefully consider all specialties before reaching a final decision. Many Feinberg departments offer two week selectives for students at any level. Selectives are a great way to interact with faculty, residents and patients in different specialties. If you are considering urology, we offer two-week selectives in both adult and pediatric urology. During your two-week rotation, you will have the opportunity to work with many faculty and residents. The schedule is flexible, and we often adapt the schedule based on the interests of the students. For example, if you want to experience a particular type of surgery, we change your schedule to ensure that exposure. Similarly, if you are interested in a primary care specialty and want urological clinical experience to enhance your understanding of patients with urologic problems, we can provide you with an entirely outpatient clinical experience.

 How important is a research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

Students should participate in a research project and derive publications. Your research does not necessarily need to be in urology. Our faculty engage residents and students in active research teams, so if you are interested in urologic research we can connect you with a team working on projects that interest you.

M3 and M4 Students

 What M4 electives would you recommend to a student who is interested in pursuing your specialty?

Anesthesia, critical care, general surgery and radiology.

Suggested electives include:

  • General surgery
  • Critical Care
  • Nephrology
  • Transplant surgery
  • GI surgery
  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Interventional radiology
  • GU radiology
  • Oncology (with emphasis on GU if possible)
  • Anesthesiology

 Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?

Yes. You should try to complete at least one away urology rotation in June, July or August of your 4th year. Since ERAS applications are released to programs on September 15th, if you elect to complete a September sub-I please keep in mind that you may not be able to obtain a letter of recommendation from the faculty at that program in time for the application deadlines for urology programs.

 If your specialty recommends doing away rotations, how many "aways" do you recommend?

You should plan to complete at least one away elective.

 If away rotations are necessary, when should they be completed?

In preparation for the urology application and interview cycle, you should complete away rotations in June, July or August of your 4th year.

 Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?

November. While you might have a few interviews in October and December, the vast majority of your interviews will take place in November.

 Does your specialty recommend that all letters of recommendation be written by members of your specialty?

Yes. You should have at least three letters of recommendation, at least two of which should be written by urology faculty members (at Feinberg and/or your away rotations). If you have completed a PhD or a research year, a letter from your research mentor is also beneficial. A letter of recommendation from the Chair of Urology is also recommended.

 If letters can come from other disciplines, do you have a recommendation as to which disciplines are more highly valued?

If your research mentor is in another discipline, it is fine to have her or him write you a letter for your application.

 Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?

It is important that the person who writes a letter on your behalf knows you well. In addition, you should obtain a letter from your ‘home’ Urology Chair.

 Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?

Yes, you should have a letter from the chair.

 Urology Specialty Session - Winter / Residency Application Information

During the winter of the M3 year, students should attend the specialty session sponsored by the Department of Urology to learn more about the specialty and to meet urology faculty and residents.

Urology encompasses complete medical and surgical urological care of patients. A broad range of surgical skills including microsurgery, laparoscopic surgery and extensive open surgery are utilized. Rotations in a variety of surgical subspecialties are applicable. Background in these areas would prove beneficial, though exposure to all fields is not expected. Experience in medical renal diseases and renal transplantation is highly beneficial, providing students exposure to the multidisciplinary care provided for patients. As for any surgical specialty, an understanding of basic anesthetic care and options is optimal.

MS4 Match Guide
AUA - What Is Urology?
Urology Faculty Mentor List

Urology is an early match specialty that is run through the American Urological Association.

Some programs also require application through Electronic Residency Application Service because the general surgery years match through the National Residency Matching Program. Typically programs guarantee your spot in general surgery at the same institution, so this secondary Match through NRMP usually consists of you ranking the program #1 and submitting your list. Once you match in urology, it is important to clarify this with your new program.

Request a Urology Adviser


Robert E. Brannigan, MD
Urology Career Advising Coordinator
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Stephanie Kielb, MD
Urology Career Advising Coordinator
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Joshua Meeks, MD/PhD
Urology Career Advising Coordinator
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For More Information

Department of Urology
Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine
303 E. Chicago Ave., Tarry 16-703
Chicago, IL 60611-3008
Phone: 312-908-8145