OBGYN: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become an OB/GYN, also known as an obstetrician and gynecologist. Learn about job duties, job growth and education to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an OB/GYN?

When couples are looking to get pregnant or are in need of a doctor after they are pregnant they seek out a specialist in the field of women, reproductive and prenatal care. They seek out an OB/GYN. An obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN) is a physician who specializes in women's reproductive health and pregnancy. These doctors also treat issues specific to women such as breast cancer, hormonal disorders and cervical cancer. The following chart provides an overview about becoming an obstetrician and gynecologist.

Degree Required Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
Training Required 4-year OB/GYN residency
Key Responsibilities Provide health care for women related to reproductive health; provide health care before, during and after pregnancy and deliver babies; examine patients, order diagnostic tests and make diagnosis; order medication and treatment
Licensure or Certification All states require doctors to be licensed; board certification in OB/GYN is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% (for all physicians and surgeons)*
Median Salary (2016) $264,367**

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

What Job Duties Will I Have as an OB/GYN?

As an OB/GYN, you specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and disorders that affect women, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer and menopause. Additionally, you work with expecting mothers throughout their pregnancies, during childbirth and into postpartum. As a doctor, your responsibilities also include performing annual examinations, collecting and documenting patient medical histories and providing counseling on diet, hygiene, sexual health and disease prevention.

What Is the Employment Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment outlook for physicians and surgeons is positive, with a growth rate that's expected to be much faster than average. The BLS projected an increase in employment of around 14% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). Your compensation as an OB/GYN will vary by state and industry. However, Salary.com reported in 2016 that the median salary of OB/GYNs was $264,367.

What Education Do I Need?

In order to become an OB/GYN, you must generally obtain your bachelor's degree, earn a 4-year medical degree and complete a 4-year residency. Additionally, every state requires licensing in order to practice medicine. Then, depending on whether you graduated from an allopathic or osteopathic medical school, you have the option of passing an examination to become board certified in obstetrics and gynecology from either the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

In order to prepare for medical school, your undergraduate coursework should include chemistry, physics, biology and other science courses. Once accepted into medical school, you spend the first two years taking courses in genetics, human anatomy, microbiology, pharmacology, pathology and more. Your second two years of medical school are spent gaining hands-on experience in hospitals and clinics under the supervision of licensed physicians. During this time, you rotate through different specialties, including obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, internal medicine and more. Once you move into your residency phase, you'll gain more extensive training and experience in your specialty with a focus on pregnancy management and labor, the female reproductive system and other healthcare issues unique to women.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers with similar training requirements are available in other medical fields, such as chiropractors, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, and veterinarians. With a master's degree someone could work as a physician's assistant, nurse anesthetist, midwife or nurse practitioner. At least a bachelor's is needed to work as a registered nurse.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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