On Call: Catching Up with Three Urologists
What have graduates of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health been up to lately? Three medical school alumni who are urologists share their stories.
Dirk Fisher, MD '79
I practice at Affinity Medical Group in Appleton, Wisconsin. My surgical caseload varies greatly, from urinary stone treatment to oncological care to vasectomy and vasectomy reversals. I also do some pediatrics. The variety keeps this an interesting and challenging field, with new innovations constantly occurring.
I didn't plan to become a urologist. Near the completion of medical school, I had interviewed throughout the country for an obstetrics-gynecology residency. But in December of my senior year, I decided to take an elective urology rotation - then I knew this was the specialty for me. The department chair at the time, Dr. John B. Wear, encouraged me to apply for a slot, and I did.
I started my urology residency in the newly completed Medical Sciences Center (UW Hospital and Clinics) in 1979, and finished in 1984. My mentors, Drs. Folkert Belzer, David Uehling and Reginald Bruskewitz (among many others), were instrumental in creating an excellent learning environment. I practiced in Sheboygan for two years before moving to Appleton in 1986.
I would tell students who enjoy surgery with a nice mix of office practice that they should consider urology. An elective medical school rotation will help define their interests. In urology, there are surgical emergencies, but less so than in general surgery or orthopedics. In our specialty, we have many grateful patients, which always is the highlight in any physician's career.
I'm a past president of the Wisconsin Urological Society. I enjoy Wisconsin alumni, sporting and outdoor events, and I'm a big Badger fan.
My wife, Maureen, and I went to the Rose Bowl. And aside from the outcome of the game, we had a great time. We met many non-medical alumni who were a lot of fun. Everyone enjoyed the New Year's Eve bash at Century City - where there was a lively band and much dancing.
Jennifer L. Maskel, MD '00
I'm currently a general urologist at Dean Clinic and St. Mary's Hospital. My husband, Tom, and I live in Madison with our two children, Michael, three, and Amelia, who is 15 months.
I fell in love with urology quite by accident. I was all set to do orthopedic surgery when I had a urology rotation as an elective. By the end of the first week, I had changed my mind.
I like the variety. Urology is a good combination of medicine and surgery. Office-based procedures also provide variety throughout a clinic day.
I did my residency at UW Hospital and Clinics. While I am a general urologist, I have a special interest in incontinence and neurological conditions that impact the bladder.
We see some pretty memorable things. One case that stands out is a woman we treated for incontinence. She said that the surgery we did changed her life. After the surgery, she had to exercise and lose more than 100 pounds. I literally didn't recognize her. She became teary and was very thankful that we were willing to operate on her, even though she was high-risk at the time. To be able to impact someone's life like that was an honor.
We are privileged to have chief-level residents work with us and I occasionally teach medical students. I like to be constantly thinking about how to make instruments better and am working with a company on some devices that will hopefully be used by other urologists. I enjoy giving talks for community members and medical groups.
Urology is a good blend of medicine and surgery. I tell students who are thinking about the field to first determine what type of personality they are. Are you a procedure person or not? I feel that's important and will help people in making a decision. My feeling is, if you love urology, go for it!
Donald Nguyen, MD '84
I'm the medical director of pediatric urology at Children's Medical Center of Dayton, Ohio. I'm also a clinical assistant professor in the surgery and pediatrics departments at Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University.
My wife, Lynn Buffington, and I, and our children, Elizabeth and Jonathan, moved to Dayton 10 years ago from Knoxville, Tennessee, where I was the chief of pediatric urology at East Tennessee Children's Hospital.
I see a vast spectrum of cases, from common conditions such as phimosis, inguinal hernias and hydroceles, to complex disorders such as congenital abnormalities or malformations of the kidneys and bladder.
In my third year of medical school, during a urology rotation, I was moved and influenced by the quiet and unassuming Dr. David Uehling, an attending in pediatric urology. I found pediatric urology to be the most appealing choice because it combined surgery and pediatrics, the two specialties to which I was most attracted.
I did general surgery then urology training at Minnesota (but I remained a diehard Badger fan!). I then went to the University of Washington for my pediatric urology fellowship at Seattle Children's Medical Center. I am thus a graduate of two UWs (UW2)!
Earlier in my career, I produced publications in peer-reviewed journals and made presentations at national meetings, but more recently I've focused on sharing my 20 years of experience with aspiring young students and residents, hoping that they may be pointed in the same direction as I was by Dr. Uehling. The shortage of pediatric urologists remains a significant challenge.
On the other hand, I feel obligated to encourage students to seek a field that ultimately will benefit a much larger number of patients and make a greater impact on national healthcare-family practice, primary care or pediatrics. The opportunities in these fields are changing for the better on many fronts.
Date Published: 03/24/2011