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    Why urology residents should care about health policy

    Alan L. Kaplan, MDAlan L. Kaplan, MD

    Urology Times Blogger Profile

    Dr. Kaplan is a urology resident at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

     

    At my very first urology residency interview, the department chair asked about my interests in the field. Hoping my dark suit was masking the nervous sweat spotting underneath, I explained I was interested in health policy. Lowering his head, squinting over a pair of retro horn-rims, he responded: “Pretty early in your career to be changing the field, isn’t it?” 

    Read: Budget deal cuts pay to hospital-owned practices

    I ended up matching into a different program where health services research and health policy are valued but found that the resident’s foray into health policy is both novel and ill defined. It turns out opportunities for—and interest level among—residents to get involved in health policy are few and far between.

    Recent events in the urologic world are shaking the ground we walk on and highlight the fact that policy does matter to urology residents. Just as prostate cancer patients need to live long enough to derive benefit from treatment, the (practice) lifetime of the urologist dictates the degree to which health policy will affect her in the future. To that end, residents should care more about policy than anyone.

    Recommended: Practice ‘efficiency’ is not a dirty word but a noble goal

    But residency is busy! Between learning endoscopy, open surgery, lap and robotics, journal clubs, teaching conference, and in-service studying, learning about the abstract world of policy is low on the totem pole.

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