Urology residents in '09: Bright, focused, unique

March 1, 2009

While urology program directors are impressed with this year's group of residency interviewees, some flaws and some generational differences are evident.

Every year, hundreds of medical students apply for urology residencies. This year, 373 of 474 med students who registered for the urology matching program filled out preference lists, and on Jan. 26, 259 students matched with 111 U.S. urology resident training programs.

Department heads and program directors were unanimous in their enthusiasm about the incoming class. In fact, one of the biggest problems they faced in the selection process was limiting themselves to just 20 interviewees to fill two or three available positions.

"Urology is getting a bunch of all-stars! Scores on the board examinations are very high. The average of our applicants was above 240 this year, and they all have solid backgrounds in diverse areas," he said.

At New York Presbyterian's Weill Cornell Medical College, professor, urology chair, and residency program director Peter Schlegel, MD, also is impressed with the quality of urology residency candidates.

"We've really been blessed with a high proportion of top-ranked students, people who have already engaged in academic research. They're very productive and thoughtful. Many have had international experience, or they participated in health care in under-served areas. That may just be handful of students, but we're starting to see more of that now than we did in the past," Dr. Schlegel said.

"I think we're getting exactly the type of people we want to have in the field and whose potential to contribute to urology over time will be outstanding."

"Most of our residents are coming out with board scores that are very high: in the 95th or 96th percentile. They're all in the top 15% of their class. Many already had numerous publications. They've been involved with either clinical or basic science research. Ten years ago, I couldn't have said that. Some of the people already had masters or were pharmacists, and one already had a PhD," he noted.

"I've said, jokingly, that if I were trying to get into urology today, I probably wouldn't get in because the quality of these applicants is outstanding."

Dr. Thrasher isn't alone in that assessment. The chair of urology at University of California Irvine, Ralph Clayman, MD, concurs.