Difference Between a Midwife & OB-GYN

Midwives and obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYNs) both provide healthcare services to women; however, their education and expertise differ. This article will cover the job outlook, main responsibilities, and educational requirements for each position.

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Comparing Midwives to OB-GYNs

While midwives and OB-GYNs provide similar services, an OB-GYN can provide more complex medical care, such as performing a Caesarean section. The key similarities and differences between these two patient-centered careers are highlighted below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Midwife Master's Degree $99,770 (Nurse midwife) 25% (Nurse midwife)
OB-GYN Doctoral Degree $317,496 18%

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Midwives vs. OB-GYNs

Both of these professions involve assisting patients during and after their pregnancies. Careers as either a midwife or OB-GYN require strong communication and problem-solving skills. A midwife provides prenatal care and delivery services. In contrast, an OB-GYN's additional education and experience allows them to provide more comprehensive patient care throughout pregnancy.

Midwife

As a midwife, you will provide a variety of healthcare services to women. You will ensure that women remain healthy before, during, and after pregnancy. Job responsibilities include discussing patients' medical histories, performing examinations, conducting diagnostic tests and analyzing the results for better diagnosis and treatment. Midwives also educate women on family planning, perform annual gynecological exams, and assist women throughout their pregnancies. You can work at a hospital, clinic, birthing center, or a private physician practice. This career requires a master's degree, with the option to pursue certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Job responsibilities of a midwife include:

  • Informing patients on topics like proper nutrition and disease prevention
  • Acting as a primary care provider for both women and newborns
  • Presiding over deliveries and administering care during emergency situations like hemorrhaging
  • Serving as part of the surgical team during Caesarean sections

OB-GYN

An OB-GYN specializes in not only providing pregnancy and childbirth services, but also care related to the female reproductive system. You will do so by working with women throughout their pregnancy, including prenatal care, delivery services, and postnatal care. OB-GYNS are trained to perform surgical procedures, such as Caesarean sections, during childbirth. In addition to working with pregnant patients, OB-GYNs also serve as general health care providers for women, identifying and treating issues such as cervical or ovarian cancer and the side effects of menopause. OB-GYNs may work in private practice, a hospital, or healthcare clinic. An OB-GYN will need a doctoral degree, which involves passing the Medical College Admissions Test and four years of medical school beyond the undergraduate degree, completing internship and residency programs, and obtaining state licensure.

Job responsibilities of an OB-GYN include:

  • Collaborating with other medical professionals to ensure comprehensive patient care
  • Overseeing daily activities of nurses, students, and other medical staff
  • Designing and implementing healthy living programs for hospitals or community centers
  • Providing government agencies with information on disease, birth, and death statistics

Related Careers

If you would like to become a midwife, consider a job as a registered nurse, as both careers involve providing direct patient care. Those interested in a position as an OB-GYN might be interested in a job as a podiatrist, as both jobs involve diagnosing and treating patients, sometimes through surgery.

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