Obstetrician-Gynecologist Education Requirements: Program Overviews

Obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) students must go through extensive 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 OB/GYN student is to earn an undergraduate degree, graduate from medical school with either a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy and complete a four-year residency at a hospital prior to certification. Sometimes a minimum number of years in direct patient care is required. International students have extra requirements and must have earned an Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.

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

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Obstetrician-Gynecologist Education Programs

OB/GYN residency programs tend to adhere to a year-by-year schedule, through which 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 14% during the 2014-2024 decade. In May 2015, the BLS estimated the median yearly salary for obstetricians and gynecologists at $317,496, and found that the majority of them find employment in physicians' offices, hospitals and outpatient care centers.

Continuing Education and Licensure Information

OB/GYNs must 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 OB/GYN practice.

Some of the related sub-specialties in which OB/GYNs can also pursue certification include reconstructive pelvic surgery, maternal and fetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology and gynecologic oncology.

After many years of dedicated study, training and testing, OB/GYNs may find lucrative work caring for women and their reproductive health concerns.

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