From the Residents & Fellows Committee: So, You've Decided to Pursue a Career in Urologic Oncology: Navigating the SUO Match
By: Woodson W. Smelser, MD | Posted on: 05 Oct 2021
Congratulations on your decision to pursue urologic oncology! You have entered not only an excellent vocation, but also a calling that will continuously challenge your technical skills, clinical decision making, and personal and professional development. Now buckle up: the scope and innovation within urologic oncology has never been changing faster.
Urologic oncology is a relatively new subspecialty in the broader scheme of medicine, but oncologic cases have been performed in urology since Hugh Hampton Young described the technique for perineal prostatectomy and performed it on April 7, 1904.1 Since 1984, the Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO) has functioned with the following primary goals:2
- Stimulate research and teaching in urologic oncology.
- Disseminate the principles of urologic oncology to the medical profession at large.
- Bring urologists into a society whose work is entirely/principally in malignant disease.
- Be the most qualified organization on matters of urologic oncology.
- Standardize fellowship training in urologic oncology.
If you are interested in a career in urologic oncology, it is never too early to start networking. Identify urologic oncologists at your home institution or within your AUA Section and reach out to them. Have an updated CV, an articulate vision of your future goals and a list of pertinent questions ready. Also, consider meeting with your program director now to discuss their advice regarding pursuit of fellowship and any pertinent scheduling considerations that may need to be addressed as you move forward. If your institution does not have urologic oncologists, consider asking your program director to reach out to their own personal network for a de facto advisor.
Additionally, follow the SUO on Twitter to stay apprised of programming updates and to become a part of interesting clinical and research discussions. The Society of Urologic Oncology also has an official journal, Urologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations, which has a social media presence to keep you updated on emerging research. The SUO website has a list of all accredited programs, with links to the program’s official webpages and information regarding applications, fellowship directors and the match timeline.
Furthermore, I highly recommend submitting research to the annual SUO meeting and attending the networking events aimed at trainees. As you approach your time at the meeting, reach out to program directors in advance via email and ask if their department is having a “meet and greet” or if the program leadership is available for one-on-one meetings. These meetings can provide a greater level of granularity regarding program objectives and features before potential interviews. You may even make career-long connections that aid you in future steps like finding a job.
Finally, if you don’t have a mentor locally at your home institution, reach out to me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will do my best to set you on course for a great journey.
- American Urological Association: People in Urology: Hugh Hampton Young. The William P. Didusch Center for Urologic History 2020. Available at https://urologichistory.museum/histories/people-in-urology/y/hugh-hampton-young.
- Society for Urologic Oncology: About Us. Society of Urologic Oncology 2021. Available at https://suonet.org/about-us.aspx.
FROM THE AUA PUBLIC POLICY COUNCIL
AUA Advocacy’s Mission Continues to Inspire
Chair, AUA Public Policy Council
As part of this year’s Annual Urology Advocacy (AUA) Summit, Dr. Denise Asafu-Adjei and I met virtually with staff at Congressman Ted Lieu’s office. We shoehorned this rescheduled meeting into a busy clinic day, and while Dr. Asafu-Adjei was moving to start her practice after finishing her fellowship in infertility at UCLA. Her story represents many urologists seeking to make a difference, even in the infancy of their careers. Here are a few initiatives we hope will inspire you to volunteer your time toward advocating on behalf of physicians and their patients.
The AUA Summit concluded this past July with the following facts:
- 167 Capitol Hill virtual visits with 141 urologists representing 35 states with 4 strategic asks:
- Support H.R. 2903/S. 1512 to permanently expand telehealth services
- Support H.R. 944 to address specialty medicine physician shortages in rural areas
- Support legislation to develop a national prostate cancer clinical pathway for veterans
- Support federal funding for urological research with the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health
- 260+ registrants
- 33% of these were fellows, residents and medical students
- One-third of these were first-time registrants
The AUA Legislative Affairs Committee successfully supported the drafting of 2 bills:
- Veterans’ Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research Act, which directs the Secretary of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to establish a national clinical pathway for prostate cancer within the National Surgery Office of the VHA for all stages of prostate cancer.
- Worked with legislators to introduce H.R. 944 to address rural workforce shortages in urology.
Our advocacy also extends to federal agencies. On April 14, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) officially changed its rules to allow Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) applicants to apply for awards at 50% effort. Based on an AUA survey, we advocated for a reduction of the percent effort to 50%. “I particularly appreciate that [the AUA] gathered input from across your organization and included it in your reply,” said Oliver Bogler, Director of the NCI Center for Cancer Training. The lowering of the percent effort to 50% will allow more surgeon-scientists to apply and address major needs in moving research discoveries forward into clinical practice.
The AUA also met with and was acknowledged in a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which highlighted the potential for continuing telehealth usage at current levels following the public health emergency but recommended caution on the part of lawmakers in maintaining some flexibilities due to concerns with fraud, waste and abuse. The Urology Telehealth Task Force and I met with the GAO and shared data to support continuation of telehealth flexibilities post-pandemic. That meeting helped form part of the GAO’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, which included AUA talking points on how telehealth services dramatically increased during the public health emergency. The GAO also shared the AUA’s feedback regarding barriers to telehealth utilization, such as lack of broadband access and technological literacy challenges.
Our advocacy efforts are complemented by the AUAPAC. This year, we have supported 18 federal candidates essential to enhancing our telehealth priorities, reducing regulatory burdens and increasing research funding. For more information, visit https://www.my.auapac.org.
Whether you participate, advocate or donate, there has never been a more critical time to engage in the advocacy process.