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SUO Moves Forward with Focused Practice Designation in Urologic Oncology

Posted: October 3, 2019

Dear SUO Members,

Thank you all for participating in the online vetting process for the SUO application for a Focused Practice Designation (FPD) in Urologic Oncology. The comments section provided much useful feedback regarding both support and areas of concern. Overall, more than two-thirds were in favor of proceeding with a FPD certification. In addition, over 75% of those surveyed plan to pursue FPD once established. The SUO leadership has reviewed and discussed all the comments, and has used this information to make some adjustments in our application.

One common concern is why this is necessary in addition to having performed an SUO fellowship or already having significant practice immersion in urologic oncology. The FPD is not attempting to differentiate SUO members with an FPD from members without. It is optional to participate. However, the application is based upon the belief that dedication to the practice of urologic oncology differentiates between us and our patients’ choices and outcomes from other urologists. Arguably less relevant but more important is that the ABU is asking the SUO to be the first subspecialty to consider this, due to our educational infrastructure, OKAT exam and expertise. FPDs have been given in other surgical domains and it is clear that this may become a trend going forward. SUO members might find it potentially suboptimal if other areas practicing aspects of minimally invasive surgery and oncology obtained this designation and we declined the opportunity.

Initial discussions were to use SUO membership criteria (including ABU diplomat status) along with our validated OKAT exam and SUO CME meeting content to assure competency. Some felt that participation in the OKAT exam and SUO meeting should be more frequent. However, more members felt that restricting CME to the SUO meeting was too limiting and in response to this majority we have changed our application to the following:

“Knowledge is assessed through SUO or equivalent GU oncology focused meeting attendance (such as GU ASCO, AACR, ASCO, or AUA) and CME credit at least once every three years focused on urologic oncology. The OKAT test must be taken once every five years. Diplomates must maintain ABU certification and remain in good standing.”

Maintaining a validated assessment tool such as the OKAT is critical to the designation. Some commented that the test has no point if it is not pass/fail. However, in our attempt to avoid having FPD applicants or members feel additional burden it is being used as a tool for assessment of knowledge with affirmation of strengths and opportunity for additional education in areas of weakness.

In summary, the majority support moving the optional FPD forward and for the ABU to submit the application on our behalf. In addition, most SUO members surveyed stated they would seek FPD once established. We recognize that this new initiative will present unique challenges and are putting the application forward with the above modifications and majority interests of the SUO membership. I would like to thank Barbara Arango and Monica Bertz at WJ Weiser & Associates, as well as Drs. Mike Cookson, Jeff Holzbeierlein and Brant Thrasher for all their hard work on the FPD.

Thank you.

Christopher P. Evans, MD, FACS

Christopher P. Evans, MD, FACS
Professor and Chairman, Department of Urologic Surgery
University of California, Davis, School of Medicine
President, Society of Urologic Oncology