Become an OBGYN: Education Requirements and Career Information

Dec 16, 2019

Becoming an OBGYN requires a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and residency requirements to find out if this career is right for you.

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  • 0:01 Essential Information
  • 0:30 Step 1: Complete an…
  • 0:53 Step 2: Pass the MCAT
  • 1:21 Step 3: Complete…
  • 1:42 Step 4: Complete a…
  • 2:03 Step 5: Obtain Licensure

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Essential Information

Degree Level Bachelor's degree followed by medical school
Degree Field(s) Biological sciences or pre-med
License/Certification All states require licensure
Experience Internship (1 year) and residency (3-7 years) after completing medical school
Key Skills Compassion; communication skills; attention to detail
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 14% growth
Average Annual Salary (2015) $222,400

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

OBGYN is an acronym for physicians who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. OBGYNs diagnose and treat disorders of women's reproductive systems, offer birth control methods, monitor pregnancies and supervise childbirth. For many women, the OBGYN also serves as a primary care physician. OBGYNs, like all medical doctors, must complete several years of education and obtain licensure to legally practice in the United States. Let's take a look at the steps it takes to become an OBGYN.

Step 1: Complete an Undergraduate Degree Program

Step 1 is to pursue a four-year undergraduate degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology. Students may consider taking courses in biology, chemistry and anatomy, which provide a foundation of education for medical school and human health. Most programs that offer science degrees also include laboratory courses, which allow students to become familiarized with lab equipment and procedures.

Step 2: Pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

The next step is to pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) to gain entry into medical school. The MCAT is an intensive, day-long exam that tests students on biology, chemistry and physics, in addition to reading and writing skills. The Association of American Medical Colleges notes that roughly half of the students who apply to medical school are accepted. As a result, many pre-med students begin studying for the exam well in advance of college graduation.

Step 3: Complete Medical School

Step 3 is to complete a 4-year medical school program. Aspiring OBGYNs take many of the same courses as general physicians, but may choose classes with a concentration in obstetrics and gynecology. Medical school programs also include extensive hands-on practice through clinical rotations in which students can gain experience in OBGYN.

Step 4: Complete a Medical Residency

The next step is to complete an internship and residency in a hospital. An internship is usually a year long, while a medical residency may last between 3-7 years. During a medical residency, OBGYN students are paid employees and may evaluate patients, create treatment plans and observe patient progress.

Step 5: Obtain Licensure

The final step is to obtain a license. State licensure is mandatory in order to officially become an OBGYN. Students who are licensed can legally begin medical practice in the U.S. and its related territories. Licensure requires passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which tests a physician's ability to relate medical concepts and principles to their practice. Board certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology is not required for licensure but is another professional credential that an OBGYN physician can pursue to demonstrate greater knowledge in the field, and there are several subspecialties that are available for this. All licensed physicians must also keep up with requirements for continuing education.

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 14 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations, for physicians and surgeons in general from 2014-2024. The BLS reported the average annual salary of OBGYNs was $222,400 as of May 2015.

To become an OBGYN, you need to complete an undergraduate degree and medical school, along with an internship or residency, and then obtain a state medical license.

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