Obstetrician-Gynecologist Education Requirements: Program Overviews

Obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs) are physicians who have specialized education and training to diagnose and treat women's health concerns like breast cancer, pregnancy and reproductive system conditions.

Essential Information

The common route for an OBGYN student is to earn an undergraduate degree, graduate from medical school and complete a residency at a hospital prior to certification.

Becoming an obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) requires about 12-15 years of education and practical experience. The first eight years are general medical training. Doctors begin to specialize in OBGYN practice during residency programs that begin following graduation from medical school. Experienced OBGYN professionals can seek certifications in sub-specialty areas, including maternal and fetal medicine.

  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree; medical school degree (Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy); sometimes a minimum number of years in direct patient care is required; international students must have earned an Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Additional Requirements: Outpatient care, supervision of junior residents

Obstetrician-Gynecologist Education Programs

OBGYN residency programs tend to adhere to a year-by-year schedule, where residents are given increasing responsibilities and hands-on experiences. In the inaugural year, students receive an introduction to patient care, including rotations in critical care, gynecologic surgery and outpatient treatments. For year two, there's an increased exposure to obstetrics along with a continuity clinic, which is a resident-run, faculty-administered facility. In year three, residents spend more time in surgery and are given increased patient care responsibilities. The last year, residents are given titles such as chief resident associate, and typically work for six months in gynecologic surgery and six months in obstetrics, providing independent patient care as well as supervising junior residents.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for physicians and surgeons in general is predicted to be better than the average for all jobs. The BLS expected employment for these occupations to increase by 18% during the 2012-2022 decade. In May 2014, the BLS estimated the mean yearly salary for obstetricians and gynecologists at $214,750, and found that the majority of them find employment in physicians' offices, hospitals and outpatient care centers.

Continuing Education and Licensure Information

OBGYNs must also complete state licensure requirements and pass two board exams for certification before they can practice. State licensure is accomplished via the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), and the board exams are split, with one given immediately after residency completion and the other after two years of OBGYN practice.

Some of the related subspecialties in which OBGYNs can also pursue certification include reconstructive pelvic surgery, maternal and fetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology and gynecologic oncology.

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