Meet the Incontinence Doctor: Dr. Jennifer Sobol's Incontinence Blog

  • I wasn’t one of those kids who wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. It was the furthest thing from my mind. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but thought maybe I would go into social work or be a therapist. I was always very good at math and science growing up, but I ignored this gift for a long time. Only once I got to college did I realize that I was best suited for a degree and career in math or science. I ultimately majored in psychology with the initial plans to do research in Bio-psychology. I found however, that I didn’t want to sit in a lab all day, and that I wanted to take care of people. At this point, as a junior at the University of Michigan, I finally gave in to my destiny and began my pursuit of a medical career.
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    Now I'm an incontinence doctor, a urologist.

    Many people question me as to how I ended up being a urologist, particularly as a female. Why would a female go into urology as a discipline, and especially since I had such a strong background in psychology? Initially, I wanted to be a psychiatrist, and that was my plan when I started medical school. Medical students are required to spend time with all of the different specialties to get exposure to the different fields. As I rotated through the different specialties, I found that psychiatry was not the best fit for multiple reasons. At that point I really opened up mind to explore other options.

    When I rotated on the urology service, I was pleasantly surprised at what I experienced. I found the field to be very exciting and innovative. Most of the treatment options for all urologic diseases and disorders were constantly being updated and revolutionized and I wanted to be a part of that. We are just beginning to recognize that even if symptoms aren’t life threatening per se, they still can threaten quality of life. Incontinence is a perfect example of this. No one ever died from incontinence, but many have lost their life, independence and self-esteem, and many people have given up doing the activities they love doing because they are incontinent. Luckily, there have been many advances in this field, especially over the last 5-10 years, and now there is help for many people.

    I have an Osteopathic medical degree, D.O., which I think has benefited me in taking care of patients. The philosophy behind osteopathic medicine is to approach each patient as a whole person and not symptom by symptom. By being aware that everyone is different and that not all treatments work for everyone despite having similar symptoms, I believe, has helped me to be a better doctor. I firmly believe that a person knows what is wrong with him or her. They may not have the knowledge or education to put it into words to tell me, but they know. If I listen to someone, really listen, they will tell me what I need to know to treat them. I believe that an open line of communication between a doctor and patient is extremely important. That being said, people need to be informed patients, and take responsibility for own their healthcare. Doctors today are under a lot of pressure to see a lot of people quickly and efficiently. The more information a patient is armed with when they arrive to their doctor visit, the more they will likely get out of the visit. There is so much information out there available to patients, especially on the Internet. Doctors appreciate when a patient comes in for their appointment and has specific questions they want addressed. The Internet is an excellent resource for patient education; however, you need to always keep in mind who is the author of the material. Is it a hospital-sponsored Web site or someone with no credentials just spouting off anecdotal stories about their experiences with some disease? Make sure from whom you are getting your information.

  • In this blog, I plan to cover issues dealing with incontinence. I have been trained in both female and male incontinence, and all of the various causes. There are so many different treatment options out there, and it can get overwhelming to try to figure out things on your own. I am here to answer questions and help guide you toward the right answer and treatment so you can become the informed patient we were talking about. That way we can figure out together when you should see a urologist and make sure you have enough information to feel confident at your appointment.

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    Every month I will address a different topic regarding some aspect of incontinence or voiding dysfunction. Please feel free to email specific questions as well. I will answer as many as I can on this site.

Published On: May 25, 2006