As medical students, we were surprised at just how little urological content was taught at medical school. We received a basic education on how to manage urological infections, renal stones and urinary retention but nothing particularly inspiring was shared, nothing that would really engage the attention of a junior student.
On our surgical rotations most of the content was focused on general surgical or vascular pathology with urology quite often being neglected. Our view seemed to echo what most trainees say when questioned about their motives in pursuing the discipline; if had they not gone looking for opportunities to learn more about urology, they would never have received much exposure to it. Although it is admirable for juniors to demonstrate initiative and seek out opportunities, prior to that stage, there must be a glimpse of the potential that a career in urology could provide.
We felt compelled to improve the profile of urology across the medical schools in the UK to inspire the next generation of urologists. To achieve this, we teamed up with a leading Consultant Urological Surgeon, Mr Herman Fernando, and founded the Students for Urology (SFU) society. Our aim is to represent the urological education of medical students, foundation doctors and core surgical trainees. A place where the information can be utilised by anyone, even in the later stages of their vocation, showcasing the immense variety and satisfaction that a career in urology could offer.
As we have created a platform with an easily accessible network, medical students can take advantage of the opportunity to boost their portfolios early on, whilst they have fewer clinical commitments. We recommend students start by identifying mentors within the specialty, attending theatres and clinics as well as undertaking student selected modules in urology. Building such networks of communication within the specialty during medical school will in time pay dividends in the form of opportunities to present, audit and publish research, all of which are critical to developing a strong and convincing CV.
In the brief time since we began, SFU has held three national competitions, collaborated in producing a guide to urological emergencies and is currently hosting monthly teaching webinars aimed at improving urological knowledge amongst medical students and foundation doctors. With over 30 representatives at various levels of training based across the UK, we hope to make urology a much less ambiguous specialty as well as to educate, inspire and motivate juniors through the future events we will hold.
Recent endorsement from the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) has further supported our movement in generating greater exposure and education about urology. At the BAUS Annual Meeting in June 2021, SFU was selected to present a segment teaching medical students, foundation doctors and core trainees on how to build a robust portfolio, attain a training number and how to maximise any pauses in training that an aspiring urologist may take along their journey.
To find out more about us and to get involved as a medical student, foundation doctor or core surgical trainee, please visit our website www.sfu.org.uk as well as following us on Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates from the society.