Physicians specializing in obstetrics and gynecology pursue certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology to enhance employment opportunities and substantiate their knowledge of the female reproductive system and patient care. It can take aspiring physicians a minimum of 13 years to complete an undergraduate program, medical school, residency in obstetrics and gynecology and one year in practice to meet the board's requirements. Doctors planning to specialize in an area of obstetrics and gynecology, such as gynecologic oncology or reproductive endocrinology and infertility, must complete a longer residency program.
Doctors who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology provide care before, during and after pregnancy and treat disorders of the female reproductive system. OB/GYNs perform gynecological examinations, diagnose and treat conditions in women such as cervical cancer, endometriosis, infection and breast cancer. Physicians working in obstetrics and gynecology provide information on family planning, nutrition and health maintenance to women and may act as a primary care physician. Obstetricians and gynecologists perform cesarean sections and surgeries on the female reproductive system when necessary.
Obstetricians and gynecologists must complete the same education requirements as all physicians before specializing. Physician education begins with an undergraduate degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most medical school applicants complete a bachelor's degree. Bachelor's degree programs should include courses in mathematics, biology, physics and chemistry. When applying to medical school, applicants must submit their results of the Medical College Admission Test. Medical school includes two years of classroom study in courses such as biochemistry, anatomy, pharmacology, medical laws and psychology. The final two years of medical school require students to complete clinical rotations in various areas of medicine such as family practice, pediatrics, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology.
Residency training is the doctor’s education in a specialized area of medicine physicians complete after graduating from medical school. According to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the residency-training requirement for a general OB/GYN is four years. Physicians may get additional training in a specialty area such as gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology and infertility.
Board certification is a voluntary process, but physicians who meet the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology's standards demonstrate their knowledge and skill in the field. Applicants to the board who have completed medical school, a four-year residency program and have an active medical license qualify to take a written examination. After passing the written examination, physicians must have unrestricted hospital privileges and have been in independent practice for a minimum of one-year collecting cases. The board requires applicants to submit case lists for the oral examination.
- University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston: Is Obstetrics and Gynecology the Specialty for You?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Physician or Surgeon
- The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Inc: 2014 Bulletin f or the Written Examination for Basic Certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology
- The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Inc: 2014 Bulletin f or the Oral Examination for Basic Certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Stanford School of Medicine: Residency Training Program
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