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Surgery, Subspecialization & Science: A History of Urology at the Cleveland Clinic, 1921-2000
By Mark D. Bowles and Virginia P. Dawson
Published 2000

One hundred years ago, urologists did not exist. At that time, medical specialization had long been considered a non-professional offshoot for the untrained and unsophisticated practitioner. They specialists were considered to be “quacks” and the generalists dominated the medical field. But, by the end of the 19th century, distinctive medical specialties began to emerge, and the generalists slowly lost their prominence in the field. The urological specialist was ready to be born, and Surgery, Subspecialization & Science, a History Enterprises project, traces their emergence at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Few medical specialties have undergone as dramatic a transformation as the discipline of urology. The Urology Department at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation has helped to shape many of these changes in the profession and, in the process, has significantly advanced medical specialization. Like few other medical institutions this one has remained on the leading edge of surgical and scientific advances for the last 80 years. Not only has the department contributed to the growth of the Clinic into a major worldwide medical center, but its members have also played a pioneering role in the urologic discipline.

The mark of any great medical institution is its ability to cultivate an environment where the students learn to surpass the teachers; where the physicians are consistently pioneering groundbreaking research; and where the patients benefit from their proximity to excellence. This achievement defines the history of the Clinic’s Department of Urology. Today it is recognized as one of the top two Urology Departments in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. This success stems from a constant striving to refine the technique of surgery, advance the process of specialization, and further the state of science. The result has been the continuing ability to provide better care for the sick and produce more advanced urologists for the future.