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How to Become an OB/GYN Doctor

What Does an OB/GYN Do?

ob/gyn doctor smiling with baby

A physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) focuses on female sexual and reproductive health, pregnancy, and delivery. While many recognize OB/GYNs as the physicians who deliver newborns or perform gynecological exams, OB/GYNs also perform a wide variety of surgical procedures, from Cesarean sections to uterine fibroid resection. In addition, obstetrics and gynecology is one of the primary medical specialties to provide family planning services.

Workplace Details

As with many other specialties in medicine, OB/GYNs can practice in a wide variety of settings, ranging from smaller outpatient clinics to large teaching hospitals and academic medical centers. Thus, the percentage of time spent in clinic versus the operating room also varies according to the OB/GYN’s particular choice of practice setting.

For a given OB/GYN, the particular work schedule can also vary based on the medical focus and/or subspecialty training. For example, OB/GYNs who elect to remain actively involved in labor and delivery may find themselves taking a large amount of overnight call and working unpredictable hours, given the nature of pregnancy. As another example, OB/GYNs who have chosen to subspecialize in gynecologic oncology will typically find themselves spending the majority of their time in the OR as opposed to the clinic, but will often work more predictable hours.

It should be noted that, technically, obstetrics and gynecology are two separate specialties that many laypeople consider to be one and the same. While it is true that obstetrics and gynecology both focus on the health of a woman’s reproductive organs, obstetricians specialize in reproductive health during pregnancy, whereas gynecologists focus on female reproductive health outside of pregnancy. Many OB/GYNs practice both obstetrics and gynecology, although some choose to pursue one of the two fields independently of the other.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
New York
$177330
California
$201790
Florida
$219010
Texas
$207750
Pennsylvania
$197250

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $45,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $168,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$162,390Over $187,200Over $187,200

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $135,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$135,300Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tuscon$144,500Over $187,200Over $187,200

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $135,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little RockOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $105,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$101,400$172,640Over $187,200
San Francisco Bay$54,820$150,590Over $187,200
San Diego$153,180Over $187,200Over $187,200
Sacramento$110,710$142,530Over $187,200

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$60,130Over $187,200Over $187,200

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $59,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$57,020Over $187,200Over $187,200
Bridgeport$73,320Over $187,200Over $187,200

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $144,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$143,790Over $187,200Over $187,200

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$131,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $37,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$130,130Over $187,200Over $187,200

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $140,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
MiamiOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200
Orlando$134,990Over $187,200Over $187,200
Tampa$143,700Over $187,200Over $187,200
Jacksonville$154,920Over $187,200Over $187,200

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $128,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 36%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$129,840Over $187,200Over $187,200
Augusta$123,220Over $187,200Over $187,200

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $112,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): Over $187,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
BoiseOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $75,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$74,560Over $187,200Over $187,200

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): Over $187,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
IndianapolisOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

IOWA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): Over $187,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des MoinesOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $155,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 1%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Kansas City$138,230Over $187,200Over $187,200

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $152,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$154,190Over $187,200Over $187,200
Lexington$140,790Over $187,200Over $187,200

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $87,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

MAINE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): Over $187,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$169,440Over $187,200Over $187,200

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $167,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$154,560Over $187,200Over $187,200
Frederick$182,430Over $187,200Over $187,200

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $76,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$68,030Over $187,200Over $187,200
Springfield$150,650Over $187,200Over $187,200

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $51,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$49,950$178,800Over $187,200
Grand Rapids$67,810Over $187,200Over $187,200

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $140,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$146,910Over $187,200Over $187,200

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): Over $187,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $91,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$90,510Over $187,200Over $187,200
Kansas City$138,230Over $187,200Over $187,200

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $117,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$30,570Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $158,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$160,410Over $187,200Over $187,200
Lincoln$174,570Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): Over $187,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las VegasOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $174,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $137,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $121,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$96,680$185,260Over $187,200

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$171,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $71,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$74,730Over $187,200Over $187,200
Buffalo$41,170$48,090$166,540
Rochester$135,350Over $187,200Over $187,200

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $132,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
CharlotteOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200
Raleigh$150,310Over $187,200Over $187,200
Greensboro$132,100Over $187,200Over $187,200
Winston - Salem$73,740Over $187,200Over $187,200

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $163,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

OHIO

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $63,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$104,680Over $187,200Over $187,200
Columbus$154,620Over $187,200Over $187,200
Cincinnati$56,810Over $187,200Over $187,200

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $145,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$159,740Over $187,200Over $187,200

OREGON

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $148,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$157,310Over $187,200Over $187,200

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $57,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$63,260Over $187,200Over $187,200
Allentown$54,410Over $187,200Over $187,200

RHODE ISLAND

Salary Data Not Available

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $77,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Columbia$64,590$115,720$152,690

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): Over $187,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 2%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $90,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chattanooga$92,880Over $187,200Over $187,200

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
$172,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $42,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Houston$41,770$49,870Over $187,200
San Antonio$69,410Over $187,200Over $187,200

UTAH

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $155,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Ogden$172,350Over $187,200Over $187,200

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $61,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
BurlingtonOver $187,200Over $187,200Over $187,200

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $134,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$100,110Over $187,200Over $187,200
Richmond$147,740Over $187,200Over $187,200

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $140,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$141,540Over $187,200Over $187,200

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): Over $187,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: -4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): Over $187,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$161,940Over $187,200Over $187,200

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
Over $187,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): Over $187,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median salary for all physicians, including OB/GYNs, is over $187,200. A Medscape survey of doctors in 2016 found that the average salary for OB/GYNs was $277,000. As of 2014, the Medical Group Management Association reported the median salary for all OB/GYNs was $317,496. It is important to note that OB/GYN malpractice insurance premiums are among the highest for physicians. The listed salaries do not take into account these insurance costs, which can reach six figures for a single provider.

Overall for all physicians, the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates job growth of 14% from 2014 to 2024, which is considerably faster than average job growth. There is currently a shortage of practicing US-born, US-trained OB/GYNs. This is due in large part to the difficult lifestyle of the profession and the high cost to maintain malpractice insurance. Therefore the employment outlook in this field is exceptionally high and particularly robust in certain geographical regions.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$187200 Per Year

$90.00 Per Hour

Chicago IL Median Pay

$187200 Per Year

$90.00 Per Hour

Steps to Become an OB/GYN

1

Earn a bachelor's degree.

The first step towards any medical practice is the successful completion of an undergraduate bachelor degree. In college, the particular subtype of undergraduate degree (BS, BA, AB, etc.) and your academic major are of minor importance. However, stellar academic performance is a requisite. Therefore, it behooves applicants to choose a major/degree that they enjoy and in which they excel. Regardless of major, pre-medical courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and biology are required of all applicants.

Show Me Schools »

2

Next steps begin during undergraduate years: MCAT and med school application.

Application to medical school is competitive, requiring a robust application that preferably demonstrates experience in research, leadership and volunteering, in addition to high academic performance. Additionally, applicants must study for, complete, and score highly on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), a massive cumulative examination that assesses basic scientific knowledge.

3

Attend medical school.

Medical school is four years long and essentially split into two components: a two-year curriculum of didactic (classroom) lectures, followed by two years of various clinical rotations. As with undergraduate study, a high level of academic rigor is required in medical school in order to maintain a wide breadth of options when applying for residency training. OB/GYN is a moderately competitive specialty, particularly at the more prestigious institutions; it required strong grades, high medical board scores, and preferably research in a topic related to your future medical specialty. Also worth noting is that students must pass the first two parts of the three-part United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

4

Begin your residency.

Following the successful completion of medical school, students are awarded the MD degree and press on to complete a four-year residency training program, during which they truly focus on obstetrics and gynecology as their chose specialty.

5

Get licensed.

All physicians require a full medical license to practice medicine independently, and this can be obtained by application to the state following the successful completion of medical school and the USMLE.

6

Strongly consider board certification.

To underscore their mastery of their chosen specialty, most OB/GYNs will seek board certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a founding member of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). In order to obtain board certification, candidates must pass a two-day board certification examination.

7

Consider subspecialties and other opportunities for career advancement.

Additional post-residency training can be obtained in subspecialty fields such as reproductive endocrinology or gynecologic oncology through the successful completion of a three-year fellowship.

Following the completion of residency, OB/GYNs can choose to start their own practice; join an existing group and work towards becoming a partner; or become employed through a hospital or large academic medical center. If the candidate chooses the latter, advancement comes through academic promotion. In hospital-based practice, promotions may allow for more administrative duties and increasing control over their practice. This may manifest as the ability to practice strictly gynecology rather than obstetrics, for instance.

Exploring Degree Paths

OB/GYNs complete at least four years each of college and medical school. They also spend four years studying obstetrics and gynecology at the graduate level. This phase is known as residency.

Let’s look at each stage individually.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES

4 years

To enter medical school, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree and pass some required classes (prerequisites).

Many premedicine students choose to major in biology or chemistry. However, it’s worth noting that no specific major is required. Another common approach is to major in a subject you enjoy while minoring in a science.

Show Me Schools »

Prerequisites vary a bit among medical schools but typically include a year each of English, biology, and physics, plus two years of chemistry. All science classes must be lab-based. It’s worth noting that the Medical School Admissions Test (MCAT) also covers subjects like sociology, psychology, and biochemistry.

When it comes to preparing students for medical school, some colleges have a better track record than others, so ask about admission rates. The best schools often have a dedicated premedicine program that provides academic advising, application support, and work and volunteer opportunities.

Take a look at any pre med’s schedule, and you’ll probably see some of the following courses:

College composition

Practice reading and writing for a variety of purposes, including critique, response, interpretation, and synthesis.

Cellular biology

Learn and practice the techniques you need to study cell structure, intracellular transport, cell division, and more.

Organic chemistry

Explores the chemistry of living organisms, including classifications, properties, and reactions of carbon-based compounds.

Physics

Use mathematics to describe physical principles like motion, force, energy, heat, electricity, and magnetism.

Most medical schools begin accepting applications in June for the following year’s class. You’ll need to fill out applications (many schools use a centralized application service) and interview with the admissions committee. Admission decisions are based on your academic record, MCAT scores, interview scores, letters of recommendation, and overall fit for the program.

MEDICAL SCHOOL

4 years

This is where you learn the fundamental skills that all physicians need to diagnose and treat patients. As you progress in the program, you’ll gain hands-on experience in a variety of specialties including OB/GYN.

Medical students describe the first two years of study as similar to college, but more intense. Days consist of lectures and labs. You’ll also practice basic skills like conducting a physical exam. Common Year 1 and 2 courses include:

Disease process

Learn how microbes, parasites, and even the immune system can cause change and dysfunction in the body.

Interprofessional practice

Complete a collaborative project with students from nursing, social work, pharmacy, and other health disciplines.

Clinical skills

Practice history-taking and examination of patients with a variety of backgrounds and conditions.

Structure and function

See firsthand how the body is put together at the molecular, cellular, organ, and systems levels through dissections, medical imaging, and lab investigations.

During Years 3 and 4, you’ll begin working with patients under supervision. Your school will provide a variety of clerkships, also known as rotations, which expose you to different practice areas. These include both primary care (internal medicine, family medicine) and specialties like psychiatry, surgery, and yes indeed, obstetrics and gynecology.

If you decide that OB/GYN is the path for you, be sure to seek out additional opportunities during Year 4. Typically you’ll have some elective rotations on your schedule at this time to explore your interests.

RESIDENCY

4 years

Think of residency as graduate school for doctors. Now that you’ve learned your basic skills, it’s time to focus on obstetrics and gynecology.

As a resident, you’ll continue your rotations, but now with greater emphasis on your chosen specialty. Your program will likely include time in the obstetrics, emergency room, and women’s health services. OB/GYN residents earn a relatively modest salary ($45,000 annually) and care for patients under the supervision of more senior “attending” physicians (those who have completed the full spectrum of training and can practice independently). Clinical training during residency will include all aspects of outpatient and inpatient gynecology and obstetrics, including gynecological surgery (such as fibroid removal, for instance). You’ll also get exposure to different practice settings like doctors’ offices, community hospitals, and family planning clinics and take call some nights and weekends.

Each year of your residency, you’ll gain more independence to care for patients on your own. You’ll also take on more responsibility for teaching junior residents and medical students. During complicated cases — a difficult delivery, for example — you might still team up with an attending physician, but by Year 4 you’ll mostly be flying solo.

In addition to caring for patients, residents engage in the following activities:

Surgical training

An introduction to the many operations OB/GYNs perform as well as operating room procedures and safety.

Research

This can be conducted on your own or with a faculty member. The result should be a paper suitable for publication.

Grand rounds

Featured OB/GYN speakers present on current topics in the specialty. Presenters may be from your hospital, or they may be national figures.

Continuity clinic

Follow a group of patients throughout your residency years. This experience gives you a taste of running your own practice.

Most residencies build in some elective rotations. This is a great time to delve deeper into your area of interest, especially if you plan to pursue fellowship training. Some residents also use this time for additional research.

Keys to Success as an OB/GYN Doctor

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Stress management

Given the stressful nature of pregnancy and delivery, OB/GYNs must be able to work thoughtfully and skillfully under pressure.

Flexibility

Those wishing to actively practice obstetrics must also be suited to working highly variable work schedules.

Combination of interpersonal and surgical skills

Given the hybrid nature of this specialty, OB/GYNs should enjoy practicing both medicine and surgery. This requires a strong bedside manner and clinical acumen, in addition to dexterity, precision, and surgical skill.

Additional Credentials

OB/GYN doctors who plan to practice a subspecialty must complete an additional period of training called fellowship.

Here's a list of OB/GYN fellowships and their approximate durations:

  • Family planning (3 years)
  • Gynecologic oncology (3 years)
  • Maternal-fetal medicine (3 years)
  • Reproductive endocrinology (3 years)
  • Pediatric/adolescent gynecology (1-2 years)
  • Female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (3 years)

Board certification as an OB/GYN doctor is technically optional but will definitely make your life easier. For one, you’ll have an easier time getting hospital privileges (which you need to deliver babies). Patients — expecting families in particular — increasingly prefer board-certified physicians.

Three American organizations offer OB/GYN board certification: the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), and the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS). The ABPS credential may not be recognized in all states; check with your medical board for details.

To sit for your board certification exams, you must be residency-trained and licensed. The ABMS also requires two years of independent practice experience before certification.

For fellowship-trained physicians, board certification is also available in the following subspecialties from both ABMS and AOA:

  • Female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery
  • Gynecologic oncology
  • Maternal and fetal medicine
  • Reproductive endocrinology/infertility
Andrew T. Colucci, MD

Andrew T. Colucci, MD is a senior radiology resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, and a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, and a graduate from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston College. His professional interests are quite varied and include clinical research, medical education, healthcare economics, and health policy.

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