What Is an Obstetrician?

Obstetricians mostly work with pregnant women and are skilled in matters of pregnancy, labor and delivery. Becoming an obstetrician requires an average of 12 years of education and training. Read on to learn more about this career. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

Obstetricians are the primary caregivers to women during their pregnancies. Their chief responsibility is ensuring that patients deliver healthy babies. Today, most doctors who practice obstetrics have received training as general obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYN). OB-GYNs provide medical care to women at various life stages, from adolescence through pregnancy and menopause. Obstetrician-gynecologists' skills lie not only in prenatal, labor and delivery care but also in diagnosing illness and disease, prescribing contraceptives, and performing routine exams and tests.

Important Facts About Obstetrics and Gynecology

Licensure Required by all states
Professional Certification Optional, board certification in a specialty is awarded by the American Board of Medical Specialties
Work Environment Medical setting, usually full-time with irregular hours
Similar Occupations Physicians, physician's assistants, nurse practitioners

Training and Education

In addition to completing a four-year bachelor's degree, those interested in becoming obstetrician-gynecologists must complete four years of medical school and three to eight years of residency. During their residencies, prospective OB-GYNs complete rotations in such disciplines as obstetrics, gynecology and family medicine. The length of a residency might vary if a student decides to go into a specialty like maternal-fetal medicine.

Skill Requirements

An OB-GYN should have an aptitude for science and medicine, and possess critical-thinking, decision-making and problem-solving skills. Since OB-GYNs work with the public on a regular basis, they should be able to communicate clearly, listen actively and find ways to assist their patients.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Many OB-GYNs go into a private practice once they've gathered enough training and experience. However, new practitioners tend to work at hospitals and clinics as salaried employees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some OB-GYNs may find employment opportunities at educational institutions and with the government. The BLS predicts that job opportunities for all physicians and surgeons, including OB-GYNs, are expected to increase by 14% between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the national average for all jobs.

According to Payscale.com as of September 2015, the median annual salary for OB-GYNs was $202,107. Entry-level OB-GYNs can expect to make a lower salary, starting at approximately $190,000. OB-GYNs who run their own office or work in a medical practice with other physicians typically made more than those working for other employers, according to the BLS. Salary also varies by geographical location, with OB-GYNs in Wisconsin, Iowa and Idaho being some of the top earners as of May 2014.

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