Gynecologist: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for gynecologists. Get the facts about job duties, education, licensure requirements and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Gynecologist?

Gynecologists, who usually become board certified as obstetricians and gynecologists, are specially trained physicians who focus on women's reproductive health, pregnancy and childbirth. They are trained to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and conditions of the reproductive system. The job can include counseling patients about family planning, contraception and menopause, as well as conducting tests like cervical cancer and sexually transmitted disease screenings. They are also qualified to prescribe medications and provide referrals to specialists in other areas of women's health. Some gynecologists specialize in a particular subfield, such as gynecologic oncology, reproductive endocrinology or reconstructive surgery.

The following chart provides an overview about becoming a gynecologist.

Degree Required Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
Training Required 4-year residency
Key Responsibilities Examine female patients for reproductive system health; perform and order diagnostic tests and analyze results; diagnose patients with illness, injury or disease and prescribe treatment or medication; counsel patients regarding birth control and other reproductive issues
Licensure or Certification All states require doctors to be licensed; board certification is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18% (for obstetricians and gynecologists)*
Median Salary (2017) $264,859**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Salary.com

What Is a Gynecologist?

Gynecologists diagnose and treat patients, monitor women during pregnancy, perform preventative tests and procedures, assist with child delivery and counsel women with postpartum depression. Serious issues requiring a gynecologist include breast, uterine and cervical cancer, pelvic disorders, hormonal disorders, sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive issues.

What Education Do I Need?

You need to complete a medical degree program to become a gynecologist. To qualify for medical school, you must first earn a bachelor's degree. In such a program, you can take general education requirements as well as courses designed for your specific major. Although not mandatory, it's suggested that you choose a major in a science, such as chemistry or biology. You can expect to devote four years to completing an undergraduate program. Typically during your final year, you would take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and apply to medical school.

Medical school generally lasts four years and results in a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Medical school involves research opportunities and coursework in a variety of areas, such as anatomy and physiology, pathology, immunology, pharmacology, microbiology and histology. The focus of the third and fourth years involves taking part in rotations in major areas of medicine, such as obstetrics and gynecology, psychology, internal medicine, family practice, surgery and neurology.

What Happens After Medical School?

After medical school, you must enter a residency program in obstetrics and gynecology. Obstetrics-gynecology residency programs last four years. During this time, you might undergo specialized training in the form of seminars, case studies and practical experience in a clinical setting. Some of the areas you can study include labor and delivery, family planning, infertility and reproductive endocrinology. If you want to specialize your practice in one of these fields, you can complete a fellowship in the subject after your residency.

How Do I Get Licensed and Certified?

All physicians are required to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to practice in any of the 50 states. You might want to check with your state board for other specific requirements. You can obtain board certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (www.abog.org). Certification requires passing of both written and oral examinations.

How Much Can I Expect To Earn?

According to Salary.com, the median annual salary for physicians in obstetrics-gynecology was $264,859 in January 2017. The top ten percent earned more than $367,811, while the bottom ten percent earned under $197,844.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Trained doctors who want to specialize in a different area can choose a residency in an area other than gynecology/obstetrics, such as internal medicine, ophthalmology, anesthesiology or orthopaedic surgery, among others. If you are looking for a job focusing specifically on reproductive health, you might also be interested in becoming a certified nurse midwife (CNM). These advanced practice nurses offer reproductive healthcare for women before, during and after childbirth. For this job, it is necessary to earn a master's degree and pass a licensure exam.

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