How to Become an OBGYN, OBGYN Educational Info & Average Salaries


What does an OBGYN do?

OBGYN, which stands for obstetrics and gynecology, is a medical specialization that focuses on the female reproductive organs. The field of obstetrics involves the management of pregnancy and childbirth, while gynecology involves the health and proper function of the female reproductive system.

OBGYNs serve pregnant women by monitoring their health and that of their unborn babies, and guiding them through their deliveries. They also provide vital service to women who are not pregnant, by giving them their regular pap smears, breast and pelvic exams, and helping them with birth control, menstruation, and sex issues. All of these duties will typically fall under the purview of an OBGYN doctor.

Here’s a video that goes into the day-to-day tasks that an OBGYN might carry out:

OBGYN Average Salaries

Workplace Annual mean wage
Physician’s Offices $217,780
Hospitals $205,750
Outpatient Care Centers $220,120
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools $105,400

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest earning OBGYN doctors typically work in physician’s offices or Outpatient Care Centers. Take note of the fact that the salaries in Private Physician’s Offices, Hospitals, and Care Centers are quite similar, whereas OBGYN doctors who are working in Colleges and Schools tend to be paid far less. This is likely because doctors working on Colleges or Universities will tend to have far less experience – they will typically be doctors who’ve only just qualified.

A doctor specializing in the practice of OBGYN can expect an average salary of about US$215,000, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. As far as doctor’s salaries go, this is definitely not the highest – for example. it’s considerably less than the $519,000 average that orthopedic surgeons earn. However, OBGYNs still have higher average salaries than general medicine practitioners (doctors who don’t specialize). They also do better in salary terms than pediatricians, who make an average of $189,000 in a year.

Becoming an OBGYN: Educational and Career Requirements

Becoming an OBGYN Educational and Career Requirements

From that fact that is a branch of medicine, one can already assume making this one’s profession entails long and usually arduous years of study and practice. The process may vary slightly among different medical school systems in different countries like the UK or Australia.

Required Skills and Qualities

Apart from fulfilling all the academic and licensing requirements, there are certain skills and qualities that successful OBGYNs should have.

All of the patients in this field are women, and they tend to feel vulnerable and exposed when they come for a consultation due to the sensitive nature of the health issues involved. A doctor who is gentle and reassuring can make them feel less so. A compassionate and soothing demeanor translates to a good bedside manner, and helps patients open up about their worries, issues and symptoms, while gentle and steady hands can help minimize the discomfort that patients might feel.

As with other doctors in other medical specialties, you may need some leadership skills. You need to develop an air of authority to gain the confidence of your patients. Strong leadership and management skills will also help to earn the confidence and trust of the staff at the hospital/clinic.

Prerequisites for Medical School

How do you become an OBGYN? You have to get into med school first! The track towards becoming an OBGYN begins with a pre-med undergraduate bachelor’s degree, which means majoring in one of the applied sciences: usually biology, chemistry, or physics. Complete your pre-med, and maintain an above-average GPA.

Participate in extracurricular activities that can show your passion for medicine. Help out in medical missions, initiate your own projects that have to do with health and medicine, and perhaps in the OBGYN field in particular, such as benefit concerts for women’s health, marathons for breast cancer awareness month, and other similar endeavors.

Finally, you have to take (and pass) an admissions test to prove that you have the mental capacity to become a doctor. In the United States and Canada, this is called the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT.

Becoming a Fully Qualified OBGYN

So, how long does it take to become a fully qualified OBGYN doctor? On top of a 4 years bachelor’s degree, you still have to complete at least 4 years of medical school, followed by about another 4 years of residency. If you so choose, you can also obtain further specialization by completing a fellowship program. See the below table for a clear idea of how long it takes to become a fully licensed and certified OBGYN doctor.

The OBGYN Educational & Career Track

OBGYN Education & Career Track How Long it Takes Optional
Bachlors Degree 4 Years  No
Medical School 4 Years  No
OBGYN Internship 1 Year  No
OBGYN Residency 4 years  No
Subspecialty Fellowship (e.g Reproductive Endocrinology orb Gynecological Oncology) 2 Years Yes

Medical school involves at least 2 years of academic work to master the foundations of medicine, followed by clerkship, in which medical students get some hospital experience through rotations in the different medical specializations, including but not limited to obstetrics and gynecology. You’ll get exposure to pediatrics, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology (yes, that’s a real thing!), and the neurosciences, surgery, radiology, and pathology, to name a few.

Graduating from medical school doesn’t mean the journey is over. After you get that diploma, internship follows, which includes more rotations in the different medical specialties, in preparation for taking the medical board exams.

Only after successfully passing this phase do you officially become a licensed physician. You can now practice general medicine (also sometimes known as internal medicine). However, at this point you are not OBGYN yet. This is the last chance that you’ll get to change your mind about OBGYN and get into another specialty.

You have to undergo residency training, which in the US lasts for 4 more years. Only after residency can you take your licensing examinations in obstetrics and gynecology, after which you are officially legally allowed to practice.

OBGYNs have the option to take their fellowship in sub-specializations. You can go into reproductive endocrinology and infertility, wherein which you get to treat patients dealing with infertility and provide treatments to help them conceive. You can also sub-specialize in gynecological oncology where they can help women suffering from cancer in the breast, ovary, cervix, or in other female reproductive organs.

Other OBGYN and Women’s Health Careers

Other OBGYN and Women's Health Careers

If you’re interested in Obstetrics and Gynecology as a field, but you don’t plan to become a doctor, there are still a number of career options that you can pursue that don’t require you to go through the long and expensive process of becoming an MD.

OBGYN Nurse – OBGYN nurses are licensed/registered nurses that focus in the area of women’s reproductive health and women’s health issues in general. On top of all the normal things that nurses are required to do, OBGYN nurses may also be required to perform some specific tasks relevant to the field. These tasks might include discussing birth control options with patients or monitoring the general  health of unborn children. OBGYN Nurses that work in hospitals also often help with the delivery process. If you want to specialize even further as an OBGYN nurse, you might hone in on more specific healthcare areas like postpartum (after birth) care or  the labor/delivery process.

OBGYN Nurse Practitioner – Further up the nursing ladder is the OBGYN Nurse practitioner. To become a nurse practitioner, one needs to obtain a master’s degree (as opposed to an associate’s degree for a registered nurse). Nurse practitioners can expect significantly higher salaries as well as better working conditions overall than registered nurses. An OBGYN nurse practitioner would have broadly the same duties as an OBGYN-focused registered nurse, but typically the former will have a greater degree of responsibility and freedom in their job than the latter. Nurse practitioners also tend to work in private practices and clinics rather than hospitals, which tends to give them better hours and more flexibility in their working hours.

OBGYN Technician – Techs in the OBGYN field typically do things like aiding doctors and nurses during the delivery process, making sure all equipment and delivery areas are sterilized and clean, monitoring and examining patients, and keeping hospital/clinic health records up to date. Keep in mind that an OBGYN technician should not be confused with an Ultrasound technician – while the two overlap in some ways, ultrasound technicians will typically spend more time operating machines, and OBGYN technicians will tend to have a broader, less specialized skill set that applies more generally to women’s health issues.

Midwife – A career as a midwife is most suited to those with a genuine and enduring interest in childbirth and working with pregnant women. Midwives typically have a wide range of expertise over the entire reproductive process, from pregnancy all the way to postnatal care. That being said, for a lot of people, the main allure of midwifery as a career is the opportunity to work with and oversee the delivery process.

Additional Tips

Take on an attitude of excellence. This is a field that requires utmost dedication and commitment. There are no half-measures. You will deal with human life, and therefore you need to give your very best, and work at constantly surpassing your best. This is the first step in how to become an OBGYN.

Prepare for your tests. You need to pass the admission test that gets you into medical school. In the US, this is MCAT. You have to win this early on.

Review licensing requirements for the state or country that you would like to practice in, as there tend to be subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the requirements in different states and the US and in different countries around the world.

Stay current. How long did it take you to become an OBGYN? You have invested so much of your time and your heart into your chosen profession; you have to stay at the top of your game. The medical field is constantly evolving and making new discoveries, new diseases, new technologies, new treatments. You need to stay at the top of your game. You cannot stay static. Subscribe to the medical journals in your specialization.

Conclusion

While an OBGYN’s salary isn’t the highest on the average when compared to other medical specializations, a lot of OBGYN doctors will tell you that it’s not just about the money. The best part of being an OBGYN is the opportunity to deal with pregnancy and the miracle of birth.

You get to experience firsthand the growth and development of a baby – from the initial stages where the soon-to-be child is just a blip in the monitor, all the way through to birth and post natal care. This is probably one of the most rewarding fields of medicine as it is one of the few specializations that give doctors the opportunity to bring new life into the world. It’s also one of the few medical specializations that doesn’t primarily deal with disease and illness.

 

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