An OB-GYN is an obstetrician-gynecologist. Separately, an obstetrician deals mainly with the care of pregnant women up to their delivery time, whereas a gynecologist is concerned with the preventive medicine of the female reproductive system. When considering medical career choices, you might have considered the OB-GYN career path and wondered whether it’s the right fit. If that’s the case, it will help if you know some key things before starting.
Learn the Difference Between Obstetricians and Gynecologists
OB/GYN is a type of primary care that heavily emphasizes longitudinal care. After all, you'll be consulting your patients as they go through adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy, menopause, and beyond.
Obstetrics focus on pregnancy management using medicine and surgery. The core activity of obstetricians involves childbirth via vaginal delivery or cesarean delivery (C-section). In the first trimester, you'll work with pregnant patients around once a month; in the second, you'll see them every 2-4 weeks; and in the third, you'll see them every 1-2 weeks. The essential part of your duty is monitoring the mother and fetus' health and checking for any issues or symptoms.
Gynecology is treating the female reproductive system with medicine and surgery. So, in addition to treating pelvic discomfort and infections like vaginitis, you'll do the yearly exams and offer contraception options.
Gynecology focuses on women's health throughout their lives. It includes treatments for diseases, injuries, and disorders of the reproductive system, breasts, and vagina. Gynecologists also help with other female health issues, such as postpartum depression and sexually transmitted diseases. They can also perform hysterectomies and tubal ligations.
Obstetrics and gynecology are two different branches of women's health care, but they are both very important in helping women. They work together to provide the best care for patients.
OB/GYNs can be found in private practices, hospitals, and community health centers. OB/GYNs can specialize in obstetrics, gynecology, or both. Many OB/GYNs also act as primary care physicians.
Decide What You Want to Practice
Obstetrics and Gynecology consist of several practices, namely:
- gynecologic oncology,
- maternal-fetal medicine,
- reproductive endocrinology and infertility,
- and female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
Following the first four-year core residency program, these fellowships last three years; one of those years is devoted to research. In addition, other fellowships are offered in pediatric and adolescent gynecology and genetics.
Be Mindful of Your Education Requirements
Typically, obstetricians and gynecologists need a bachelor's degree, a medical school degree (which takes four years to complete), and three to seven years of internship and residency training.
In an OB/GYN residency, you should understand every facet of the specialty and the subspecialties of reproductive endocrinology and gynecological surgery.
After completing your residency program, you may enroll in a fellowship program to receive additional training in one of the gynecological subspecialties mentioned above. For example, fellowships are available, among other things, in maternal-fetal medicine, female reconstructive surgery, etc. Depending on the specialty, a fellowship program may need an extra three to four years of training.
As you know, all states require licenses for doctors and surgeons. This means that you must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination, a three-part test, and graduate from an accredited medical school.
The first and second steps of the licensing process are completed while you are still a medical student, typically after your second and fourth years, respectively. Usually, you take Step 3 in your first or second year of residency.
Although obtaining board certification in your specialty is not required, it might be beneficial since it will increase your patients' trust in your abilities. You must finish a residency program and then pass an exam to become board certified.
Consider Your Career Path and Future
Concerning salaries and job opportunities, you need to consider a few things. First, your patient load and location influence your pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, obstetricians and gynecologists made an average annual pay of about $240,000 in 2020, with Hawaii, Wyoming, Montana, Delaware, and Colorado being the highest-paying states.
However, the Roe v. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court will impact almost all OB-GYN residency programs in jurisdictions where abortion is prohibited. These restrictions might make it more challenging for the next generation of OB-GYNs to acquire essential knowledge and techniques frequently required to end a miscarriage or save the life of a pregnant patient.
Moreover, it is anticipated that from 2020 to 2030, the overall employment of obstetricians and gynecologists will decrease by 2 percent. Nevertheless, obstetricians and gynecologists choosing to work in rural and low-income areas should have excellent prospects, as these places frequently struggle to draw in medical professionals.
Though daunting, full-time OB/GYN jobs are fulfilling. There are various tasks to carry out, and every day will bring something different. Additionally, it’s fantastic to walk alongside women through their incredible reproductive health journey, so every extra hour spent doing this job is worth it. If your goal is to provide care to women, then an OB/GYN job is the right fit for you.