From the AUA Science and Quality Council: Help Advance the Urology Workforce through the AUA Annual Census

By: David F. Penson, MD, MPH | Posted on: 06 Aug 2021

The AUA Annual Census collects workforce data directly from urology care providers worldwide. First launched during the 2014 AUA Annual Meeting, the Census now stands as an integral part of AUA’s Data Strategic Plan, combining a matrix of well-designed programs to create a comprehensive data repository to support evidence-based research and decision-making in urology.

Results from the Census provide a reliable source of data to bridge knowledge gaps and facilitate essential workforce planning. A total of 12 reports are now published and freely available at www.AUAnet.org/CensusReport, including results-based reports on U.S. urologists, international urologists, U.S. and international residents and fellows, and U.S. advanced practice providers (APPs).

Urology remains the only surgical specialty that actively collects and reports current workforce characteristics and trends, consistently allowing for both longitudinal and cross-sectional analyses. By utilizing advanced statistical techniques, data collected through the Census can be linked to other data sets to build a wealth of information on the urological workforce that users may then use to inform clinical practice, scientific research and advocacy efforts. Such detailed analyses further allow the AUA to tailor services and educational opportunities to member needs and improve the specialty for urological care providers worldwide. Public use micro Census data sets are also available to support research by AUA members and provide opportunities for researchers to present findings at various AUA annual meetings and sectional and society conferences.

The AUA recently released its 2020 Annual Census publication, The State of the Urology Workforce and Practice in the United States. For the first time in history, female urologists surpassed 10% of the urology workforce, with an average annual growth of nearly 9% from 2014 to 2020. Additionally, the number of urologists practicing in hospitals or other institutional settings rose to 47%, up consistently from 34% in 2014, signaling a shift away from private practices. Furthermore, the utilization of telemedicine programs in 2020 increased significantly from the prior year, most notably in institutional settings. Telemedicine programs were regularly utilized by nearly 72% of urologists, a significant increase from 12% a year ago.

Other Key Highlights of the 2020 Census

  • The 2020 U.S. urologist population included a total of 13,352 practicing urologists, an increase of 2.4% from 13,044 practicing urologists in 2019.
  • There were an estimated 4,223 urology practices across the United States, of which solo practices, private groups, institutional practices and other settings accounted for 28%, 34%, 33% and 5%, respectively.
  • U.S. urologists handled approximately 42 million patient encounters in 2020, down from an estimated 47 million in 2019, presumably due to COVID-19.
  • The number of urologists self-identifying as African American/Black increased by nearly 9% compared to a year ago; however, the number of urologists self-identifying as Hispanic remained unchanged.
  • Female urologists spent more time with patients in a typical office visit (19.2 minutes) compared to their male counterparts (16.5 minutes).
  • Nearly 42% of practicing urologists identified a primary subspecialty, up from 40% in 2019. Oncology remained the most common subspecialty area.
  • The top two compensated telemedicine services were video visits or conferencing with patients (93.9%), and telephone calls with patients (77.3%).
  • The top three consultation topics for which urologists utilized telemedicine were voiding dysfunction, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and recurrent urinary tract infections.
  • On average, urologists’ ratios to APPs were 3.5 urologists to 1 physician assistant (PA), 4 urologists to 1 nurse practitioner (NP), 4.5 urologists to 1 advanced practice nurse (APN) and 2 urologists to 1 APP within the practice or medical team overall.

Further data trends regarding work/life balance, patient visits, retirement details and other practice characteristics are detailed in the 2020 report. Copies of the full report can be found on the AUA website at www.AUAnet.org/CensusReport.

The 2021 AUA Annual Census is currently available (www.AUAnet.org/Takecensus) and will remain online through the end of September 2021. The 2021 priority topics include workforce diversity and inclusion, professional burnout in urology, the long-term structural and practical impact of COVID-19 in 2021 and beyond, telemedicine utilization, reimbursement and sustainability, and urologists’ role in smoking cessation. Additionally, the urological condition in focus for 2021 is BPH. All members of the urological community are strongly encouraged to participate in the Census and continue to help the AUA in its mission to promote the highest standards of urological clinical care through education, research and the formulation of health care policy.

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