Message from the chair

This is unpublished

Urology Newsletter Spring Quarter 2023

Hunter Wessells

Dear friends and colleagues:

Yesterday I saw the future of UW Urology come into focus.

 At 6:30 AM, as part of “AUA Prep” a handful of UW residents and fellows presented two-minute talks to an assembly of urologists, engineers, basic scientists, health services research staff, and peers during our monthly Urology Research Outcomes Collaborative. The quality of material was exceptional, ranging from Perspectives of SWIU Members Toward Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health to Noninvasive acoustic forceps to manipulate objects in the urinary tract (aka the Tractor Beam), from DNA Methyltransferase Inhibition and Immune Stimulation in Bladder Cancer to Parastomal Herniation Forces and Prevention Strategies. These talks demonstrated what happens when talented residents and fellows are placed in the fertile ground of UW and encouraged to think about urological problems. Make sure to check out all the work that the current UW team is contributing to the AUA Annual Meeting here.

 Stepping into the operating room an hour later, a seasoned R2 Resident and our GURS Fellow were preparing for a urethral anastomosis. Luke Schwartz, a UW 4thyear medical student starting his sub-internship, wanted to know how we determine the right tension on the tissues. My answer was that we use visual and tactile cues to infer proper tissue behavior. It struck me afterwards that Luke had offered me the equivalent of a Zen Buddhist koan, a profound riddle. How do we acknowledge and mitigate tensions inherent in the high stakes environments of surgery, graduate medical education, and academia?

 The goal of the koan is not to find an answer, but enlightenment. My own insight is that we have been operating for the last several years without the full range of sensory cues and feedback – during the COVID-19 pandemic and afterwards – limited by physical barriers, masks, work stoppages, and lack of community building interactions. And I am betting that a full return to face-to-face interactions, where we have all the cues humans know how to sense and use, will allow us to be more intentional, creative and inclusive in all we do.

 The coming weeks provide us with a number of opportunities to put all of our senses (physical, social, emotional) to use. For those going to Chicago for AUA 2023, engage with peers in meaningful debate; renew and make new friendships; share expertise; learn; and come to our annual UW Urology Alumni Reception on Saturday April 29th (RSVP requested) to expand the community. For Department members, the other opportunity for us to put this approach into practice will be when we gather for our Departmental Retreat in person on May 5th. In addition to reaffirming our mission and values, we will bring forward our best and most innovative answers to complex issues facing us and many others.

 The end of the academic year will culminate with Research Day and Graduation. This will be our capstone, strengthening our community by celebrating the contributions of our graduating Chief Residents and Fellows, and welcoming the newest members into the UW Urology family. 


Hunter Wessells, MD, FACS

Professor and Chair of Urology

University of Washington School of Medicine