FAQs About the UPMC 1+5 Urological Surgeon Training Program
Why would we want to be a 6-year program which includes a preliminary General Surgery year?
The University of Pittsburgh (UPMC) Urology program has been ahead of the curve. For the last 5+ years, our program has fully implemented the early training that is now prescribed in the new 2019 Urology Program Requirements. Our first year of “General Surgery” is already a dedicated 1st year of Urology training. Interns rotate on one of two Urology services for 6 months of PGY1 year, while the other 6 months are spent with General Surgery. The surgery rotations are specifically chosen by the residents and Program Director to be the best experience for pre-Urology training. In addition to general surgery at the university and Veteran’s Affairs hospitals, these rotations may include surgical oncology, trauma, vascular, pediatric surgery, and some of the outstanding community surgery services.
So why not just make intern year the first year of Urology, since it meets the requirements?
There are 3 reasons why we can offer a superior training program by using the preliminary year of general surgery as it is:
1) Advanced General Surgery training: Urology residents continue to do 3 months of General Surgery during their PGY-2 year. These are rotations where residents do much more at an advanced level, relative to intern year. Rotations include transplant surgery and intensive care. Our PGY-2 residents routinely perform numerous kidney transplantations at this level. Also, it is where foundational intensive care knowledge is gained, which is crucial on senior-level rotations.
2) Research: We believe it is critical to educate residents in performing urological research. Surgical research teaches the techniques and habits of life-long learning, which are essential to remain current in our rapidly changing specialty. Also, dedicated research time positions residents to excel as surgeon-scientists, if they desire to pursue a fellowship. See the below and our research page for more information.
3) Outstanding surgical breadth and volume: The University of Pittsburgh is ideally situated far from other major academic medical centers. For this reason, we see the full spectrum of urologic pathology and trauma. Large numbers of complicated patients from the surrounding area—including the entire western half of Pennsylvania, much of West Virginia, and a sizable portion of eastern Ohio—are transported to us when their needs exceed the resources of local hospitals. This experience is reflected not only in the exceptional case logs of our residents but also in their problem-solving ability. Many of the problems we see are not in a textbook and require astute application of advanced urologic principles. When residents graduate from Pitt, they are armed with the knowledge, skills, and mind to address any urologic problem.
Why don’t we just have a full year of research?
Indeed, many similar high-caliber academic programs have a full year of research. We have chosen to include 6 months of research in our PGY-4 year instead. As noted above, it is critical even for the urologist not planning an academic career to be at least proficient in the techniques of life-long learning. Also, this preserves a true surgical internship, exposure to advanced general surgical rotations, and 6 full months of urologic training during intern year. The duration of research is 6 months because we feel that this length of protected lab time is the minimum to be meaningfully educated in research. More detail regarding our research time can be found under the research tab.