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Specialty Description

An obstetrician/gynecologist focuses on the health of women before, during, and after childbearing years, diagnosing and treating conditions of the reproductive system and associated disorders.

What is an OB/GYN?

An obstetrician/gynecologist focuses on the health of women before, during, and after childbearing years, diagnosing and treating conditions of the reproductive system and associated disorders.

Obstetrics and gynecology is a diverse, challenging and rewarding specialty. It combines medical and surgical skills to address aspects of women’s health during the entire life cycle. An obstetrician/ gynecologist (OB/GYN) has particular expertise in pregnancy, childbirth and disorders of the reproductive system. This includes preventive care, prenatal care, detection of sexually transmitted diseases, Pap test screening, oncology, reconstructive surgery and family planning.

Individually, an OB/GYN is a physician who has successfully completed specialized education and training in the management of pregnancy, labor and puerperium as well as the female reproductive system, including the diagnosis and treatment of disorders and diseases. As caregivers, they are able to work with myriad medical and surgical issues that arise through pregnancy and the entire life span.

What does an OB/GYN do?

Obstetrics and gynecology is attractive as a career because it provides health care to diverse groups of women, with an emphasis on disease prevention and providing continuity of care. Nearly 80 percent of patients seen by OB/GYNs are aged 15 to 45, when preventive care can be of significant benefit in preserving health and when many patients are open to prevention messages. Participating in the miracle of birth and the resulting emotional rewards last a lifetime and are important reasons for satisfaction in the specialty. This major life event often creates a long-lasting bond between the patient and physician.

For students who enjoy working with their hands and are attracted to a procedure-based specialty, you may be surprised at how many surgical and office procedures are done by OB/GYNs. Major surgeries include abdominal and vaginal procedures, such as hysterectomy, laparoscopic surgery (sometimes with robotic assistance), hysteroscopic procedures, or laparotomy with surgery on the  pelvic organs. Office procedures may include amniocentesis, umbilical vein sampling, colposcopy, abortion, conization of the cervix, hysteroscopy and saline-infused sonograms.

How much do OB/GYNs make?

Obstetrics and gynecology is also a specialty that offers flexible schedules, whether you’re in a private, group or academic practice. Call groups have been developed to give physicians greater flexibility with on-call days and working hours. You can choose your scope of practice: part time, office-only gynecology, hospital inpatient care, large group, academic faculty or obstetric surgery. Obstetrics and gynecology is uniquely suited to students who desire variety in their practice, as most physicians in this specialty spend approximately half of their time in the office and half of their time either in labor and delivery or in the operating room. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average OB/GYNs earn equal to or greater than $235,240 per year.

How to become an OB/GYN?

Specialty training required prior to certification: Four years plus two years in clinical practice before certification is complete.

The education and training requirements for obstetrics/gynecology are set by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG). Physicians who pass the written and oral examination are granted board-certified status in obstetrics and gynecology, which is a prerequisite to subspecialty certification.