The roles of nephrologists and urologists often overlap. The nephrologist is a specialist who focuses on disorders and diseases that affect the kidneys and delivers nonsurgical treatments. Urologists are surgeons who conduct operations on the kidneys and urinary tract. Both are medical doctors who take care of patients with kidney issues.
Both nephrologists and urologists are qualified doctors who must complete undergraduate education and medical school. After medical school, urologists complete an internship and residency training in urology before passing a licensing examination. Urologists must also become board certified from the American Urology Association. Nephrologists have residences in internal medicine before completing an accredited nephrology fellowship program.
Most nephrologists work in hospitals. Some may go into private practice or form a group practice with other nephrologists. Urologists also work in hospitals or private practice. As surgeons, they work in an intense environment, often with patients who are in extreme pain or who respond negatively to surgery.
A nephrologist deals with kidney diseases and disorders, including urinary tract infections, kidney failure and high blood pressure. She orders tests and interprets the results to lead to a diagnosis of the patient's condition. In collaboration with other doctors and healthcare professionals, she develops plans of care. These include medical interventions and lifestyle changes. For chronic kidney diseases, she orders and manages kidney dialysis, which uses a machine to clean the patient's blood. Where necessary, she recommends patients for kidney transplants. This surgery is performed by a urologist, but the nephrologist is responsible for the patient's care before and after.
A urologist specializes in disorders of the urinary tracts in male and female patients, and in the reproductive system of males. She assesses patients and orders appropriate diagnostic tests. Where necessary, she performs surgery on the urinary tract and male reproductive organs. She works in consultation with nephrologists to treat kidney patients, which may include kidney-transplant surgery. The urologist is responsible for delivering patient care throughout the pre-operative and post-operative stages, and maintaining records.
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